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Girl thinks about her future Paying for College

The girl in the picture could be a high school student taking a test. Perhaps she is distracted by her concerns about how she will be able to pay for college.

If you will be starting college soon, you might find these suggestions helpful.

All students in High School or in College need to think about how to pay for college.

1. Have a long talk with your parents about money. You should have already filled out the FAFSA, and know what the computers think your parents can afford to pay toward your college expenses. But computers don’t know you and your parents very well.

Most important is that you have about $1000 – $2000  (maybe from your savings) to start the year for books and other expenses and then have your parents send you a regular monthly amount of money. Students don’t like calling home for more money and parents will appreciate knowing when to send each check (or bank deposit) Ask for extra money only in a real emergency!

You should also know by now how much the college you plan to attend is contributing to your educational costs (financial aid, grants or scholarships).

Try very hard to avoid taking loans unless you feel  certain you’ll be able to pay them back easy and fairly quickly. Imagine attending a school costing $40,000 a year and needing to borrow all of that. If you managed to graduate in four years, you’d graduate owing $160,000. Most students won’t get a job that will allow them to pay the yearly interest on that amount and they get deeper in debt each year.

Add what your parents really can afford to pay, your savings, what the college is offering you in financial aid, scholarships or grants, and any scholarships you have won. This is your income.

Subtract this from the expected cost for the year including books, room and board, travel, school supplies, etc.

Decide HOW you will cover the rest of the cost.  You can probably get a work/study job on campus. Will this be enough? What else can you do?

1. Call or visit the college finance office and describe any family circumstances that they should know. Let them know that you are worried about being able to cover the costs. Ask if there is any way they can increase the amount they can give you. The sooner you do this, the more likely they will be to add a little to your package. And really, it never hurts to ask.

2. Create a reasonable but tight budget for the year and look for ways to save money. You might rent books instead of buying them. Sometimes you can buy used books online for a bargain – but be sure it is the correct edition.

3. Begin now to list all the scholarships you can apply for during the next four years. If you take this seriously, like a real job, you might earn enough to repay any loans before you graduate.

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Weekly Study Tips

Summer Tip 1: Setting Goals

Whether you are in Middle School, High School, College, or other – You should begin by setting goals.

In Straight A’s Are Not Enough, the five characteristics of meaningful goals are described as being specific, related to your other goals, challenging, realistic, and taken seriously.

Now is a good time to list your summer goals. By the end of the summer you should have also created your goals for the next school year.  To get you started, let me suggest a few.

1. If you are heading to college, make a list of questions about college that you would really like to know. Plan ways to find some o your answers. Some will have to wait until you get there. If you are still in high school or already in college, you might list questions about some of the classes you will be taking.

2. You might spend time reflecting on what you’d like to study in college and what sorts of careers you’d be most interested in. Find people in these careers and talk to them. How much do they earn? What education did they need. Do they still love what they’re doing.

3. If you are in college or planning to go to college, read books about college. Visit colleges,  and make lists of scholarships you can apply for.  Too many students think they can only apply for scholarships when they are in college.

Too many younger students think they need to wait until they are seniors. There are a few scholarships for middle schoolers and  younger, more for students in high school, and many you can’t even apply for until you are a sophomore or older.