I originally thought about writing two separate posts, but I found it easier to combine these two into one.
Some students live in cities containing many colleges and/or universities. Some of them are technical schools, offering diplomas, certificates, or Associate degrees. Some are four-year institutions. On the other hand, some students live in small towns and cities, and have no other option but to leave that area to attend a four-year college or university for their career goals. Still, there is the underlying need to choose the right school to attend, especially from a financial standpoint.
Careers like engineering, medicine, or even business require certain programs that may be only offered at a particular institution. But many liberal arts and sciences are offered at several institutions—both local and distant. Students should take time to evaluate what career they wish to pursue and find the least expensive way to do that. If a student is awarded scholarships, then the financial aspect looks easier to manage. But in regards to student loans, students must understand that majors such as Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, English, are structurally the same at any institution. Even areas of education and health professions carry similar curricula. Students must become certified, registered, and/or licensed after graduation regardless of which college they attend.
For example, an aspiring Biology major sees that two prospective colleges have that field of study. One institution costs three times as much as the other. Why pay three times as much for practically the same subject matter and curriculum? Unless a scholarship is awarded, that student may need loans to pay for school. Even if the cheaper school required the use of student loans, the amount is still three times less that what would be needed for the other school in the example.
Another thing students should seriously evaluate is the average salary of their career choices. If I wanted to become a teacher in elementary school, and I researched the salary range of new graduates, that may give me some indication of how much student loan money would be appropriate for obtaining that particular degree. If one’s starting yearly salary is $35,000, then paying $35,000 for college is not cool, and neither is repaying that much in student loans.
My advice: look at the median salary for your career choice. Look at the history of the career salaries and how much they have changed over time. It is rare that a new graduate will make far above the average salary, so be mindful of this when you are convincing yourself that you can easily pay back student loan amounts. Rent, utilities, and other bills may take precedent over student loans as they are essential for day-to-day living. But you also want to be able to save for retirement, for emergency, and enjoy some of your money. So limit what you owe.
I hope this helped you in your academic endeavors. God Bless.
Usually the first concern about a certain college or university is the cost. Tuition is the amount of money that is required per number of credits just to attend that institution. Then there are fees (activity fee, athletic fee, technology fee just to name a few) associated with the use of facilities on that college campus. Now, in the state of Georgia, if your grade point average allows you to receive the HOPE scholarship, tuition and fees are covered for public colleges or universities. (Students attending private institutions receive a certain amount, but it will not cover full total.)
If education costs were just about tuition and fees, then students would have very little debt, and may not need student loans. Of course there are books to buy, which are not cheap. But the biggest issue comes with living expenses. Room and board account for more money than actual tuition at many schools. On-campus housing usually require usage of meal plans, which aren't cheap either.
Unless a student has grant or scholarship money, or money paid by or set aside by family, the student must find ways to pay for the expenses associated with the school he or she chose to attend. They resort to huge amounts of student loans they are eligible to receive just to maintain their living expenses. Add in utility bills (especially if living off-campus), groceries, and gas for the car and the need for money increases. Furthermore, depending on location, part-time jobs are scarce.
Consider this: staying at home and attending a local college saves money. Outside of tuition and fees, there is no room and board. If you have a part-time job, you can make and save money. You can even contribute to your parents without draining your finances or theirs. Instead of needing thousands of dollars to live, you can save any refund left from scholarships or grants, once tuition is paid.
I get that college is a moment of freedom from parents and the city where you were raised. I understand that for some, there are no local schools and going away to better your education is the only option. Even then, one should not ignore the high price tag that can set a person up for financial turmoil even after graduation.
I hope this helps you! More to come! Be blessed!
Happy New Year!! It is January, which means that it is time to return to class! The holiday break has ended and now it is back to the grind for the semester. But this is also an important time for financial reasons. Usually after Jan. 1, both returning college students and high school seniors applying to college are able to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This form allows students to view their eligibility for certain federal grants and loans. Recently, students and their parents are to fill out the application as early as October. (See www.fafsa.ed.gov, but we will talk about this more soon.
This month, I want to focus on why I am not fond of student loans. Scholarships and grants are wonderful sources of financial aid to pay for school costs. Student loans can be beneficial, too, but often they can be misused and lead to financial instability even after graduation. While unexpected expenses can arise throughout one's college years, it sometimes the lack of knowledge and immaturity about finances that lead to large amouts of debt. I feel that if more information--realistic, not-sugar-coated information about student loans is expressed while in high school and first year of college, then maybe students will have better undergraduate and post-graduate financial statuses.
In an effort to help decrease the need of student loans, I introduce my 4 Cs: cost, character, career goals, and curriculum. There is no set order to discussing these topics, so my order is random. Nevertheless, understanding these four areas will hopefully provide further information into not only the improper use of student loans, but how you can succeed around and/or without them. Stay tuned!