You Can Afford College

For Future Freshman Only

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Expenses to Consider


Private vs. Public
Overcoming Sticker Shock

When you start looking at college costs, chances are your eyes will water when you price private schools. This is called sticker shock. But, like buying a car, there's the price on the "sticker" and then there is the price you pay after your trade-in and negotiations. The same is true of private universities. It may surprise you to learn that in some cases, the "deal"—scholarships and financial aid—offered by a private school may surpass what a public school is willing to offer. It may actually cost you less to attend a private school.

Moral of the story: If a private school is on your "list," don't cross it off because of price. Most privates are willing to work closely with individuals to make their programs affordable.


How Much?

For many of us, a big part of choosing a school is the cost. This section will help you understand the real and "relative" costs of a college education.

Different colleges have different tuitions based on location, size, and other factors. One thing influencing the tuition and fees charged is whether the school is public or private. Private schools are not state-supported. This means they are funded through tuition, fees, and donations. A public school is state—supported, meaning that some of the tax you pay helps support the public colleges in your state.

When looking at the cost of a "public" school, you will notice that tuition is determined differently for "residents" and "non-residents." Generally, you're considered a resident if you've graduated high school within the same state where you want to attend college, or if you have spent a minimum amount of time living in the state. Going to a college out of state as a non-resident easily can cost double or triple the amount you'd spend if you were to attend an in-state school.

Hot Money-Saving Tips For High Schoolers

The college selection and application process can be expensive. Here are some great tips for saving your hard-earned cash:

Hot Tip: Most colleges require an application fee when you apply. These fees run about $50 per college. If you apply to five schools, you're looking at $250 in application fees alone. The good news is some schools offer Venture Scholars application fee waivers, plus some colleges have their own fee waiver programs. Be sure to check out www.collegeboard.com for SAT's fee waiver program, which offers students with financial need fee waivers for the SAT tests as well as fee waivers for college apps.

Hot Tip: How do you know if a college is right for you? Visit! Meet the students. See the campus. Talk to professors. It really is the best way to see if you've got a "fit."

Obviously, though, if you've got out-of-state colleges on your list, this can get very expensive very quickly. One way to curb costs: Visit schools only after you've been accepted. This way you're not wasting money on visits to schools that might not accept you. Other options: Drive instead of fly and share expenses with a friend who's considering the same school.

Hot Tip: Write a killer essay. Many colleges require a personal essay of about 500 to 1,000 words for admission. The purpose of the essay is to give college admission counselors a glimpse into the inner you. The essay is the place to discuss any personal challenges you have overcome. Maybe you've battled a learning disability, suffered the death of a parent or sibling, or endured serious financial difficulties. Or maybe you have exceptional leadership abilities and serve as leaders in clubs, etc. Colleges want to know things about you beyond your test scores and grades.

Essay questions differ from college to college. One college might ask you to describe a personal hero or teacher who influenced you. Another might ask you to describe a personal dilemma or challenge. Regardless of the question, write from the heart. Demonstrate an enthusiasm for learning. And then rewrite your piece until it sizzles. Be sure to have a teacher or counselor proofread it for grammar and spelling errors. Unless you are required to interview to get into a school, this is your one chance to "get real" with the college of your choice.

Why spend all this time writing? Colleges look carefully at essays when making admission and scholarship decisions. A great essay can mean money in your pocket.

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