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College Money Wasted - Choose the Right School

February 25, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 143

If you're a high school student, chances are you are already visiting college campuses all over the country to determine which school will meet your needs and desires in the future. As you go through the selection process, don't forget to establish the most essential fundamental: "How to pay for it.

In an article published online sometime ago by Rachel Hartigan Shea, the author notes that students must make a selection from approximately 2,300 four-year colleges, which for many can be their greatest challenge to date. Students often choose a college or university based solely on their plan to major in a particular subject, often searching for the school best recognized for that academic major. Unfortunately, Shea writes, "Many students come to regret this overly simple strategy when they later change their minds about what they want to study. And most college students do change their minds, switching majors at least once, and sometimes two or more times."

What makes the above scenario unfortunate is the fact that it can cost students up to 25%, or even as much as 50% more, to complete their college degree. Most educators simply point to that as college money down the drain, or wasted. Not everyone agrees with that scenario. After all they say, students are allowed the privilege of changing their minds. Yet, each time students change their major subject or school, their change of focus can add months or even years to the already high cost of a post-secondary education.

Stina Hans, an independent counselor in Santa Barbara, California, said, "Students should identify three academic areas that they enjoy and then look for schools that have solid departments in all three."

The dilemma may be further advanced should a student decide to attend a private institution. At that point, parents and students must huddle to evaluate private schools that accept federal funding versus those that do not. Many schools are totally opposed to accepting any kind of student financial aid from the government. They have deep convictions that Uncle Sam should be a distant relative when it comes to any kind of handout.

There is also the desire by some educators to help their students avoid the financial bondage that often plagues those graduating with excessive government loan debt. Since students are eligible to receive up to $138,500 or more in loans, is it any wonder that some schools prefer to stiff-arm the feds?

Those colleges that do accept government aid offer several programs that may assist students in their pursuit of a college degree. Perhaps the best known is the Federal Pell Grant that is now nearing the $6,000 mark for the neediest students.

While I do not favor loans in general, the Federal Perkins Loan is by far the best student loan available today, with up to 10 years for repayment at only 5% interest. Or better still, the entire loan (up to $40,000) may be completely canceled based on the student's occupation following graduation. If that same student enters the field of nursing, teaching, law enforcement or corrections, or serves in the military, works as a librarian, a speech pathologist, a medical tech, or full time firefighter, the student will never have to make a loan payment; 100% of their Perkins Loan will be cancelled over five years.

Then too, the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program is intended to encourage individuals to enter and continue in the teaching profession. Under this program, individuals who teach full time for five consecutive, complete academic years in certain elementary and secondary schools may be eligible for forgiveness of up to a combined total of $17,500 in principal and interest.

Finally, the Federal Work-Study Program enables students to work up to 15 hours per week in campus jobs provided through the college financial aid office. Many students are enthusiastic about their campus jobs while earning a sizeable portion of their spending money.

Not to be outdone, private schools offer sizeable merit and institutional scholarships for incoming students. Some like Pensacola Christian College, which has declined federal student aid for years, offers a variety of financial aid arrangements including a strong work-assistance program. Reportedly, students can earn up to $4,000 per year to help offset the school's affordable $7,996 annual cost.

Regardless of where a student decides to attend college, there will always be financial assistance available. The difference will be in the type of financial aid offered, albeit, scholarship & grants or student loans.

By planning ahead, you can achieve graduation success without a millstone of debt strapped around your neck.

For more creative ideas on how you can pay for college, check out our website at As part of our mission, we personally answer all e-mails directed to us from our website.

Source: EzineArticles
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