It’s that time of year again.
Classes are wrapping up, exams are in full swing, and senior high students are completing the final steps of the college process. For some seniors, it’s simple; submit the enrollment deposit, pay the first semester’s tuition, and pack the suitcases at the end of the summer. For others, the process pauses at the enrollment deposit and screeches to a halt at paying the first semester’s tuition.
Let’s take a look at the numbers provided by the CollegeBoard. The average tuition for a public four-year college comes to approximately $10,000 a year for in-state students and $24,000 for out-of-state students. Hey, it could be worse, a brave junior might think, and rightly so — it is. Try $33,000 at a private university. Multiply these numbers by four to calculate total costs — and toss in $11,000 a year for room and board.
Is it surprising that adults long out of college still refer to their student loans?
Avoiding massive school debt is undeniably a challenge, but there are a few methods out there.
- Apply for financial aid.
Financial assistance either from the university or the government provides one way into college. However, this can be highly exclusive and hold few benefits for many students. The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) determines a student’s financial need, which can prove frustrating for the senior with a financially stable family and an empty bank account.
- Apply for scholarships.
Admittedly, the easiest way to picking up one of these is through the college itself, and the easiest way to securing one is through previous academic success. Maintain at least a 3.5-4.0 GPA, score somewhere in the 1300-1600 range on the SATs, and there’s a good chance of monetary assistance from most colleges. This does not hold true for all universities; Harvard, for example, bases scholarships totally on financial need, and an SAT closer to 1600 than 1300 may be necessary for admission alone. But if the bright up-and-coming senior finds himself/herself admitted to the dream school with minimum financial assistance, there’s no need to panic… yet. It takes digging to uncover scholarship gold, but thousands of outside scholarships are all over the Internet waiting for a student with a shovel. Scholarship search sites such as Cappex, Niche, and Fastweb are a handy resource.
- Get an online degree.
A large group of universities offer fully online degrees, one of the most popular being Liberty University, a favorite among Christian college-bound students. Four years of Liberty’s on-campus tuition alone totals $92,000 (which doesn’t include the cost of room and board!), while four years of Liberty’s online degree tuition comes to approximately $40,000. Getting an online degree opens up opportunities like holding down a job during college. However, this option simply will not work for all students. Prospective musical theater majors, for example, should consider other money-saving methods. And the online option may be lackluster, even frustrating, for an extrovert, due to the dearth of social interaction.
- Take the transfer route.
This method of getting a two-year degree at the local community college and transferring to another school is gradually gaining in popularity. Aside from the tremendous tuition difference (try $4,000 a year as opposed to $24,000), taking the first two years at community colleges provides a way to slowly adjust to college life. It’s also possible to work a job while at a community college and store up some savings. Staying at home while all one’s friends move away to college may not be the most appealing of ideas, but neither is insurmountable college debt. Further, community colleges are far from empty; consider looking to fellow students for college friendships.
The prospect of paying for college can be confusing, and at times, frankly daunting. But God has good plans for those who trust in Him; class of 2018, wherever our paths lie, He will use them to His glory.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. -Proverbs 3:5-6.
Image Credit: http://time.com/money/4543839/college-costs-record-2016/
“College Costs: FAQs.” https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/pay-for-college/college-costs/college-costs-faqs
“What’s the Price Tag for a College Education?” https://www.collegedata.com/cs/content/content_payarticle_tmpl.jhtml?articleId=10064
“How Aid Works | Harvard College.” https://college.harvard.edu/financial-aid/how-aid-works
“Basic Costs | Student Financial Services | Liberty University.” http://www.liberty.edu/index.cfm?PID=296
“Proverbs 3:5-6.” https://www.blueletterbible.org/esv/pro/3/5/s_631005