Understanding College Cost and Aid

Hi there! Hope all is going well with your preparation for college this upcoming summer or fall terms.

I cannot stress how important it is to know how college cost and financial aid work. Actually, understanding the principals of college cost and paying for it are so essential that you learn because it is something you will do the rest of your life except using a different set of cost (expenses) and job earnings (income).

Just like in life when you get a job, you will have to create a budget on your expenses each month against your income resources.

So, let’s take the time to get to the heart of the objective in college.

First, You need to create a “College Budget” and subtract the “Total Financial Aid & Cash” you are getting.

“College Cost”,  you will get from the institution you plan to attend. “Total Financial Aid” will come in an award letter from the institution. You need to identify what is direct cost by asking the institution. As for “Cash”, that will come from you.

Now, we take the three and determine if you have a lack of funding. See the equation below.

Cost of College

– Total Financial Aid & Cash

Total Balance = $0

If your total balance is not $0, then you need to explore options on how to save or find the money needed to pay for college.

Make sure you evaluate the actual cost needed to attend college. For example, if you are living at home and do not need to pay for rent or food because your parents are providing, remove that from the “Cost of College”.

Once you have removed as much as you can from the “Cost of College” section, determine how much is needed int he total balance to fully pay for college.

Let’s explore opportunities on finding money to pay for college.

You should be aware that college costs don’t end at tuition. You’ll may have to pay for room and board, meals, transportation, textbooks, a computer with working Internet and a variety of other student costs.

The following tips will help you reduce cost to college and find more financial resources to use to pay the bill.

  • Explore scholarships and grants after you start college
    • Identify, track and follow up on scholarships you have received. Apply for scholarships every year. Ask the school you are majoring in for information on scholarships specific to the major.
    • Inquire in financial aid about Gift aid that doesn’t need to be repaid  to help keep costs down throughout your college degree.
    • Do not pay anyone offering you a scholarship. It may be a scam.
  • Get a part-time job during the summer and/or as you are attending college. 
    • Taking a job to earn money for college is a good way to reduce cost while attending college.
    • Many students are able to work during the school year successfully. You should not exceed the time you are working beyond a part-time job of 20 hours a week.
    • Consider a Federal Work-Study job if you are eligible, this will allow you to take advantage to get paid while at and in the college.
    • If you opt not to work summers, you may consider taking  summer courses. By doing so, you may graduate earlier saving you a significant amount of money on tuition, room and board and other college expenses.
  • Keep loan borrowing down and avoid Debt
    Colleges will offer you federal and private loans. Be aware that you don’t have to accept the entire amount you’ve been offered. Evaluate  your budget to determine home much you can cut down your college loan and make up the money in other ways. The less loan money you borrow, the less  to pay back after you graduate.

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