For all seniors who will be graduating high school in 2021, applying for college may be on the horizon. In fact, many colleges have a deadline of January 1st, which means there are only a few weeks left to apply! However, keep in mind that every college has separate application deadlines, so make sure to check with the university.
Having a college education usually comes with student loans. Although student loans may not seem real to you right now, they will be waiting for you once you graduate. It is important to know how much debt you will be in based on the university or college that you choose to attend.
Keep in mind that using your resources in high school is critical when choosing which college is best for you, both academically and financially. Reach out to your guidance counselor, teachers, and aspirations coordinator as it is their job to help you, especially with the process of applying to college!
Where to start?
The process of applying to college can be emotionally fatiguing for anyone. Writing multiple essays, filling out applications, and figuring out the loan process are just a few of the many tasks to complete. When choosing a college, there are a variety of factors to consider, and finances should be at the top of your list.
The College Board
The College Board website is an excellent tool to use when looking at the college that best suits your needs and wants in an academic institution.
How it works: by visiting the College Board site, you can customize the settings to find a college that matches your academic needs in a college. For example, if you want to attend a small private school, you can customize the settings by choosing the type and size of university you want. You can also use other customizations such as the majors that are offered, cost of tuition, or location. Once you fill out your preferences, a list of colleges and universities come up that match with what you want in a school. By clicking schools, you can see the type of university they are as well as being able to view their financials.
Ask for Guidance
It is important to talk with your guidance counselor, parents, or someone who is educated in finance to lead you into the right direction of choosing a school that won’t bury you into debt. The higher the tuition is, the higher your monthly bill will be; while you’re in school, not only should you know how much you will have to pay per month, you should also consider making payments while you’re still in school. Although the payments could be small, such as $50 a week, they do make a difference in the end.
Never be afraid to reach out for financial counseling. Although college can offer you the best four years of your life, the debt that comes with it can be overwhelming if you are unsure where to begin with payments. Additionally, doing research on loan payments is another great tool to use if you are unsure with the loan process. The loan company that you went through offers guidance and advice on their website; oftentimes there are direct numbers you can call or even an online chat.
State Schools vs Private Schools
Cost is the major difference between choosing a state school vs a private school. State schools often are less expensive, especially for students who live in that state. Private schools typically are expensive for any students, even with grants and scholarships given by the college to the student.
Like many students, they choose to leave their home state to have a chance to grow, meet new people, and see what it is like to live in a different environment. For some, the finances are of no worry, but for many students, the cost of going to a private school out of state can be costly. Every prospective college student has different wants and needs in a university, which is why the cost of attending is not always a top priority.
Compare and Contrast
Once you get your acceptance letters and financial aid packets, compare the costs of all the schools. If you are looking at schools that are out of the state, make sure to factor in the costs of travel for home visits, which could be gas money or even plane tickets.
If you don’t have a preference on the type of school you attend, it would be wise to pick going to a state school. They are affordable, and you are likely to save on other expenses as well.
Choosing a school that works for your personal budget, and what you will be able to afford once you graduate college, are important aspects to keep in mind when you apply for schools. Although debt doesn’t seem daunting now, it can be, especially when you have other finances to take care of when you enter the world of adulting.
College should be a time to immerse yourself in a new environment, learn things that interest you, and meet some of your best friends. You shouldn’t have to worry about finances, which is why it would be a wise decision to pick a school that you will be able to afford once you graduate college.