Tsue ~ That's What She Said: Paying For College Tuition ~ Scholarships To Student Loans

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Paying For College Tuition ~ Scholarships To Student Loans

As they say, time truly does fly by.

Was it that long ago that my now teenage daughter was wobbling her way to me on her new found feet?
Putting on her Daisy Girl sash with pride and an ear to ear grin?
Giggling with "her girls" during her first, serious mani & pedicure sleepover party?
Not to this Mom!

Now in the last days of her Junior year of high school and busy studying for her final exams, this Mom has been studying the myriad of ways we might pay for her college tuition.  With tuition, book and boarding fees pushing the annual cost of her upcoming college education into the range of $30- $50K+ per year, this Mom is fairly certain my recent focus on the subject has tripled the growth rate of gray hair on my head!  Even the most cursory peek into our household budget simply reinforces the fact that we won't be able to handle this most important bill on our own.

Exploring ways to pay for college, including scholarships, grants and student loans.
Looking for ways to pay for college tuition.

The full scope of this task, from narrowing the possible colleges down to a short list, exploring opportunities for her to continue to play lacrosse in college and finding a way to pay for it all, is daunting.  I will readily admit being initially overwhelmed.

Targeting The Right College
Fortunately, my daughter seems to be very confident of her focus for her education in college, having settled on engineering as her desired major of study.  Although she is uncertain which specific engineering specialty she'll settle on, considering architectural, civil and environmental, this first big step is key to developing both her "short list", as well as estimating our future expenses.

With continuing her lacrosse career, and the possibility of  sport scholarship, an important factor to cross-reference in our search for accredited colleges for the engineering, the assistance of a reputable online college resource has been a tremendous help.  Although there are nearly 300 colleges in the US with accredited civil engineering programs, there are merely 21 who offer accredited architectural engineering.  Of those 21, only three schools have women's lacrosse teams and less than 40% of the schools with accredited civil engineering programs offer the same.

Taking the time to evaluate the pros and cons of colleges helps to create a "short list".
Large university or smaller college: which is right for your student?

Evaluating The Short List
Public schools versus private schools?
Universities with large student populations or smaller colleges with lower professor to student ratios?
In state or out of state?
Rural or urban settings?
Religious affiliations?
East coast, west coast or somewhere in between?

So many options to consider, however taking the time to consider and discuss all these variables helps to develop a picture of the ideal setting for your soon-to-be college student.  Helping them find the right college setting will assist their transition to this exciting new phase and ensure they are in an environment that will lend to their educational success.

Asking friends, co-workers, teachers and school counselors about the schools, as well as a thorough investigation of their websites will help to paint a fuller picture of what each offers, further assisting you in narrowing down your selection.   After narrowing down the candidates to a final short list of four to ten colleges, campus visits and tours will serve to help make the final decision regarding which schools they will apply to.  Discussing these variables with my daughter helped to develop a list of her preferences which served to narrow our target list of school substantially.

Even with grants, scholarships and family contributions, more students need loans to help pay for college
Putting together the puzzle of paying for college.

Finding The Financing
With targeted schools on your list, not to mention their hefty price tags, exploring the options of assistance and financing available is key to helping your student achieve their educational goals.   Again, utilizing a reputable resource site will help every family discover the financial options for college that are available for their particular financial needs, including desirable grants, which do not have to be repaid after graduation.  Determining the amount of assistance you can reasonably provide for your students education, whether from your household budget or savings is a first step.  Guidance counselors can assist your student with finding and applying for scholarship opportunities.  In nearly every case, however, simple mathematics will show a gap between available funds, scholarship and grants and the hefty college bill.   While student loans for college tuition are a necessity, more often than not, ensuring that you research all available options will help to lessen your student's total loan debt when they graduate.

The Final Decision
This Mom has no doubt that my daughter and I will spend a good part of her summer break exploring college programs, campuses, as well as their lacrosse teams.  Making the final decision won't be easy, however each step we take will bring us closer to knowing what colors she'll be wearing in the fall of 2013, not to mention, bringing us closer through this important decision making process.  While I can already sense the welling of tears, each time I think of her moving forward into this important new world, I will be able to know we are sending her on her way to a bright and successful future.

Do you have a soon to be college bound student?
What factors do you feel are the most important in selecting a college?
What do you think your child or children will choose to be when they grow up?
Tell me in a comment below!  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Please see my disclosure policy.   The opinions above are both honest and my own.  Budget Image. .


Pam said...

Yes, I have a college bound student. As a matter of fact I am getting ready to leave to take her for orientation, etc., etc. in just a few minutes. I think it is important to find a school that wants to give good scholarships. :) Although I am not thrilled with her decision to be a war correspondent. Hope she changes that.

Sharon Martin Beck Valley Books said...

What a great post, my eldest isn't far off going to college, it really is something I need to start thinking about.

Grace said...

This is exciting part of life but very daunting as there are so many choices and the importance of the decision is always on one's mind.

Patricia N said...

Thanks for this article. I, too, have a rising junior and the cost of college is daunting. I'm already researching loans, so this post was helpful.

Closer to Lucy said...

I wince at the thought of what my own final tab will be, let alone my baby who is two years shy of heading to campus.

Samantha said...

the tab for finishing is unreal- especially considering the market these days

Crystal said...

I dread this time coming with four kids. I will need all the help I can get!

Jake said...

I agree!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...