Rawf8 | Istock | Getty Images
Higher education often costs more than most families can afford. A new report from NerdWallet shows that the high school class of 2023 faces just over $37,000 in student loan debt to receive a college bachelor’s degree.
Tuition and room and board for a private four-year college averaged $53,430 in the 2022-23 school year, according to college council; in the state’s public four-year colleges, it was $23,250.
According to The Princeton Review, college affordability and debt burden are top concerns for most parents and high school students. 2023 College Hopes and Worries Surveywhere nearly all families — 98% — said financial help would be needed to pay for college, and 82% said it was “extremely” or “very” necessary.
As a mother of a college sophomore and a high school senior, I know the thought of paying for college is daunting. Here are some cost-cutting strategies that can help:
1. Apply for financial aid, then ask for more
If your child is a high school or current college student, it’s not too late to ask for financial aid or ask for more. Even if the student has committed to the school no later than the day of the National College’s decision on May 1, the aid award letter received is not necessarily the last word.
“Most schools won’t have their class 100% engaged by May 1, which means there’s an opportunity to have a conversation about admission, financial aid, and scholarships” , said Robert Franek, editor of The Princeton Review.
Every year, high school graduates miss out on billions of dollars in federal grants because they don’t complete the free application for federal student aid, or FAFSA. Some schools may also require you to complete CSS profile on the College Board website to access non-federal financial aid.
Financial assistance is determined by income information which may not be current. Aid for the 2023-24 academic year is based on 2021 earnings.
Learn more about personal finance:
How to Avoid Too Much Debt in College
Suspended student loan repayments set to resume soon
Experts say Supreme Court will condemn Biden’s loan forgiveness
“This information that is used to assess and make judgments about your situation is a snapshot, and that snapshot is old,” said Mark Salisbury, founder of TuitionFit, an online platform that helps students and families determine the affordability of a college education. If your situation is now different, it should be brought to the attention of the financial aid office, he said.
If you are worried about making ends meet based on the financial aid award letter your child has already received, you can always apply for additional help. If you have experienced a job loss, disability, divorce, or other change in your financial situation, send a letter of appeal to the college financial aid office.
“The FAFSA also doesn’t take into account the cost of living,” Salisbury said. “So if you’re living in Manhattan with a $300,000 income, that’s different than if you’re from Davenport, Iowa, with a $300,000 income.
“The FAFSA doesn’t pay any attention to this at all,” he added. “If you live somewhere expensive, you may need to explain your cost of living as part of the call.”
Your appeal letter should include documentation showing any changes in assets, income, benefits, or expenses. You can find free templates online that can help you write an appeal letter on websites such as Road2College And SwiftStudent.
Tuition can help you compare your award letter to other offers that families with similar financial backgrounds have received for free. You can use this information to help you request a better deal.
Also, since the FAFSA is for a single academic year, you must submit this form each year. Just because you weren’t eligible one year doesn’t mean you won’t be eligible in future years, especially if there’s been a significant change in your family’s finances.
2. Look for private scholarships
Also consider sources of merit-based aid, especially if the financial aid you received does not meet your needs or if your student does not qualify for need-based aid.
More than $6 billion in scholarships are awarded to students each year, according to an analysis of US Department of Education data by higher education expert Mark Kantrowitz. Check with the college or ask your high school counselor for opportunities.
This information that is used to assess and pass judgment on your situation is a snapshot, and this snapshot is old.
founder of TuitionFit
“The majority of scholarships will come from colleges and universities where students apply and are accepted,” Franek said. “So performing well throughout your high school career is not only important for admission, but also for scholarship awards.” Keep in mind that SAT and ACT scores are often used—even at test elective schools—in combination with GPA in competition for scholarship awards.
Also look for free scholarship matching websites, such as the The great future of the College Board, Fast Web And Scholarships.com. Also check with local clubs, religious organizations and employers.
3. Consider a community college
crisser bug | Getty Images
You can significantly reduce the overall tuition bill by taking classes at a community college or spending two years there to earn an associate’s degree. More than half of the states even have policies that ensure that students with an associate degree can then transfer to a four-year public school as a junior.
In two-year public schools, tuition and fees averaged $3,860 for the 2022-23 school year, according to the College Council. In the state’s four-year public schools, on average, tuition alone is $10,940; at private four-year universities, it averages $39,400.
Course sharing is another cost-cutting strategy. Many courses taken in the summer or evening at a local community college can count toward a student’s coursework at a four-year institution.
4. Take advantage of dual enrollment and AP classes
Your children can also be resourceful in helping to reduce tuition costs. They can start helping out in high school by taking advanced-level courses, which can transfer into college credit, depending on the student’s and school’s score. You can go to AP Credit Policy Search on the College Board’s website to find out what credit or placement a particular college offers for AP scores.
Students can also save money while in high school by taking college courses through a state-run dual enrollment program, which allows them to take college-level courses, often at a community college. .
5. Use money from part-time jobs to cover costs
jacoblund | Istock | Getty Images
While parental income and savings cover about 43% of school fees, according to Sallie Mae’s 2022 report on how America pays for college11% is covered by the student’s income and savings.
Your child may have already saved money through a part-time job in high school or is considering getting a part-time job in college or taking a co-op position through their college program. ‘financial aid.
Contributing part of the student’s income can help reduce tuition fees. Keep in mind in financial aid calculations, however, that parents are expected to contribute a much smaller percentage of their assets towards tuition than students. So, a part-time job could affect your student’s financial aid if they earn more than a certain amount.
Some student income is “protected” to cover living expenses and other costs. For FAFSA 2023-24, up to $7,600 of a student dependent’s income is protectedand work-study is not factored into the FAFSA formula for income the family is expected to contribute towards tuition.
REGISTER: Money 101 is an 8-week financial freedom learning course, delivered weekly to your inbox. For the Spanish version, Dinero 101, click here.