As far as I'm concerned, the scariest thing about college is figuring out how to afford it. While I'm all for setting realistic expectations when it comes to advising students on which colleges to apply to, I always hesitate about steering them away from applying to a school solely based on the tuition. Here's why:
- I've NEVER worked with or known anyone who has paid a college's published tuition "sticker price" through all 4+ years of being enrolled.
- There are tons of scholarships available, you just need to know where to look for them and to apply for them in a timely fashion. This tends to be overlooked as students are often overwhelmed with working on their college admission applications and keeping up with their studies and grades in their senior year.
- Again, I can't say that I've worked with anyone or known anyone in recent years who has attended college WITHOUT having to take out some sort of a loan. In most cases, it's usually a combination of student federal loans, parent federal loans, and/or student-parent private loans. (Work studies don't count. Check the Glossary of Financial Aid Terms for more on that.)
- Just like most things in life, tuition is negotiable. It's not impossible to approach a school to which you've been accepted and after showing them another school's more generous offer of aid, have your preferred choice of school match or better it.
- Financial Aid Administrators are there to assist students who have been accepted. Reach out to them! They can often provide you with additional scholarship resources, make lender recommendations, and work with you on payment scheduling.
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