Paying for college is not just about saving enough money, and using it to pay for the tuition fees required to study in a college. Applying for admission in a college involves a lot of unfamiliar and hectic decisions, deadlines, and various application requirements.
Obviously, money required for the tuition should be the primary concern, but along with the tuition, there are many other essentials that have to be taken care of. At one point, you may feel that there is financial aid, that can be help you to manage a part of the tuition and essentials, and we don’t say that it is impossible to get the aid, but we strictly warn you that- it is going to be tough to avail your own share of that aid.
For the first generation students and their parents, it is going to be really daunting to understand and deal with the amount of new information to absorb, financial records to collect, deadlines to follow, and forms to submit.
Not only do the applicants and their parents have to deal with a new process, but they also have to take care of perfection in each step, as the future of the candidate depends on it.
When you proceed further, you will come across a lot of information and instructions about the steps involved in the process of admission.
Debunking the Myths:
Before we proceed to understand about the process and terms involved in the admission process, we must first clear our mind of some pre-grasped myths. For most of the students and/or parents, applying for admission is very hectic, energy-draining and complicated, and sometimes this forces them to believe in the wide spread myths about the process. Some of these myths and facts been justified below:
- College is an Investment-
Yes, you have heard it right. Colleges are a business, and you are their target customers. Many students and parents have a notion, that expensive colleges ensure better education and employment. But sadly that is not always true. The smarter way of investing for your child’s future is by choosing a better college, and not the most expensive one. The best colleges can also be the most expensive ones, but the vice versa may not be true.
- Money is directly proportional to your expectations- Really?
Let us understand some common myths associated with money. Students are willing to pay a huge sum of money to get quality education, hence they often develop a perception that “they get what they pay for.” It is important to understand that, a capitalist economy with a free market, provides authority to anybody and everybody to fix a specific retail price for their own product, but this does not necessarily mean that the price is directly proportional to the quality of services.
For example- The value of a Volkswagen Super Beetle (1973 model) is $25,000. You can never sell it at $50,000, until and unless it has a significant history attached to it, or it belonged to a renowned celebrity in the past.
Similarly, while deciding to pay for a college, students have to understand their priorities, and identify the motives. Students need to ask themselves a question– What do they expect out of a college?
What do they expect out of a college?
if your sole purpose for a college education is to earn a higher salary, then there are many colleges, that provide opportunities for well paid jobs. However, successful alumni of top business schools quote that “they never chased money but enjoyed their jobs, and money came as a result of their efforts”.
In 1970s, women opted for education probably just to find a better husband, but these days’ women get an education to sustain their livelihood and flourish as CEOs of multinational companies. Truly inspiring!! Isn’t it?
Contrary to the myth “Money is directly proportional to your expectations”, the amount paid to attend the same college varies from one student to another. Though the students are going to attend the same college and gain access to the same lectures, how much a student is liable to pay for his/her college education varies, and depends on a lot of parameters.
In other words, it isn’t always true that the money you spend for your education will give proportionate returns. Education is acquired through your skill and dedication, and if you seek monetary returns from your education, then the financial institutions (bank, mutual fund companies, etc.) can be preferred over educational institutions.
- Getting into School where you are ‘JUST eligible’:
‘JUST eligible’ means, you will be at the bottom of the merit list in the class. From the student’s or parent’s perspective, you should take admission into the college of desire, only if you have got enough money to bear the education cost. The students at the bottom of the merit list are not given much scholarship, or grants, which also means, somehow the bottom students make up for the discounted fee of the students, present in the top 25 percent of the merit list. From the college’s perspective; they take students who are not that good, only if they are willing to take admission with less or no grants and without scholarship, and are willing to pay a large part of the fees by themselves.
- Waiting till you get chosen by the college:
The process of applying for college starts, when one takes the PSAT or ACT plan as a junior, and it ends by attending the first day of college.
The process involves a lot of show offs, or/and promotional events from the colleges about their campuses, placements, etc., and this is done to lure the students into making up their mind for a particular college.
But, what it does not include is the tuition fees. And once you have totally made up your mind for the college, then you get shocked by the high tuition fee charged by the college. So, you should better understand- how much you have to pay for the tuition, way before you get an admission into the college.
- Parents denying for money, means more aid
Students often feel that, if their parents deny to pay for their education, then this will ultimately change their status from a dependent to an independent student. Thus, they can increase their eligibility for more financial aid (As independent students have a better chance of getting more financial aid), or in some cases a full scholarship. An aspiring student must understand that, in order to qualify as an independent student, they have to fulfil a lot of criteria.
If a student can say yes to any of the following criteria, then he or she is regarded as an independent student, or in other words his/her parents are free from the responsibility of paying for their child’s education cost.
Let’s have a look-
- Thus, it may be noted that denying to pay for your child’s education doesn’t necessarily make him/her an independent student, unless and until any of the above criteria is satisfied.
The state schools are the most cost effective
Students who are obsessed with this myth, must understand that- the price of the books, travel and other expenses are don’t change, and the total cost of education doesn’t make much of a difference, unless the school in located in your own state and you decide to live in your home.
Undoubtedly, the cost of tuition for public schools is less as compared to that of the private schools, but the chances of getting scholarships, or financial aid is much higher in the case of the private schools. So, that pretty much balances out.
Most private colleges have a maximum duration of 4 years in the graduate program, whereas most public colleges sustain a lengthy curriculum, and around 50 percent of the students take around 5 years to graduate from a public institution. So, looking from the monetary point of view, the students lose an extra year or two, that could have been used to work for a company and clearing up the loans.
- Rich people don’t get Financial Aid:
The myth is true only for the Federal Pell grant Program. One does not need to be poor in order to avail the financial aid. However, the Pell grant is not the only option available.
Wealthy parents can look for other opportunities to get financial help. There are other kinds of grants, loans, and work-study program, that can be availed by filing the FAFSA or PROFILE. Students, and their parents can file the FAFSA by providing a lot of other information, and ultimately reduce the Expected Family contribution (EFC), that will improve their chances of getting the financial support.
While the Pell grant limits the financial support to those with an annual household income of less than $50,000, the FAFSA still considers a lot of other information before calculating the EFC and determining the federal aid.
Hence, even the wealthy parents can increase their eligibility for the financial aid, by discovering ways to reduce their EFC.
- Paying to find out Scholarships:
If you opt for any consultant to find out scholarships for yourself, then you have surely not done your part of research on the process. Moreover, you are being fooled, if somebody asks you to pay for the scholarships. There are a lot of valuable information available for free, on the internet, and you can also look out for various private scholarships by reading different types of books in the library. Further, if you want to learn about other merit aid that the colleges provide, then you will have to do some more research.