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Community/Education DatePosted:4/19/06

Trust Your Inner in Tuition
by Iyana Garry

Ever wonder why you see so many ads, pop-ups, and commercials on debt payment programs, credit boosts, and bank loans? Nine times out of ten, they all stem form college, whether it's paying off financial aid and college loans, or suffering from owing a high amount of the net price. When applying for college, especially a dream college (usually a prestigious, yet expensive school,) the main question student ask themselves is, "Can I afford it?"

When asking your college mentor the price of your dream college, his r her response just makes you want to bulge your eyes out! But don't do so too soon. There's a way to get around, what they call the "sticker" price of college tuition. A sticker price is the original, five-to-six figure price you see when searching for the right college. It's usually these prices that turn you off and prevent you from even thinking about going to your dream college. But don't scratch MIT or NYU off your 'list' just yet! There are loopholes in reducing that sticker price down.

Loophole #1: Scholarships. Colleges, universities, and various companies left and right are proposing opportunities for a frazzled student like yourself who is looking for scholarship money.

Berry College
Colorado College
Muhlenberg College

Above is an estimation of college prices
after scholarships, financial aid, etc.
See the difference!

Whether you're a minority, a bookworm, an NBA hopeful, or even a disabled person, there is a scholarship out there for you. With scholarships you can win from $100 to $10,000. The key is not whether you win a scholarship, but how many scholarships you apply for. There are websites out there that are filled with pages of scholarship opportunities, such as http://www.fastweb.com. The more you apply for, the higher chance you achieve at
winning at least one and the lower your tuition will be. Also, the best part about scholarships is that you don't have to pay them back; scholarship money = free money (the best equation ever!)

Loophole #2: Financial Aid. Unlike scholarships, financial aid requires reimbursement. Also, the interest in reimbursement is unpredictable; it may either increase or decrease every year. However, in this case, being economically disadvantaged can become an advantage.

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Experts on tuition say that those who struggle to pay for college become an influence for loaners to provide more aid. Also, one of the best about financial aid is that it's proportional to tuition, and then some; if colleges raise their tuition prices, they will offer higher grants or loans to the students. More and more loans are given out as tuition is going down also, sort of, as fellow students, parents and the media bash colleges as they raise tuition prices. In some cases, colleges want to give away money! Providing more financial aid means a higher rate of diversity of the student body, which makes colleges look good.
Loophole #3: Punctuality. Start the new year with a new beginning and a new year’s resolution: send in your academic paraphernalia on time! The best and earliest time to send in your financial aid application is during the first week of January. Word is that the earlier you send in your application, the higher your grants will be. (Note: Like scholarships, grants are offers that you don’t have to pay back.) Being on time never sounded so good!

Loophole #4: Piggy Bank Savings. Whether it’s weekly allowance, babysitting money, or a part time job, any source of money of your own will help ease the burden of college cost even more. You can also try getting, what they call, an intramural job. It is a job you apply for working inside the school while going to school. If you don’t think so, your dream college does; in any case, all colleges require you to contribute, what they call, the Expected Family Contribution. Despite the fact that colleges need your money for reasons other than your education, your contribution shows that you are willing to strive and provide for your education, and that colleges and loaners are not the only ones doing all the work in this financial process. “It would really help if there was a savings plan for you that was started when you were a baby, says Darby McHugh, a guidance counselor at the Bronx High School of Science. “But if you’re a junior now and you haven’t started saving, it’s probably too late. But it’s worth a try.”

Loophole #5: Plan B. Okay, so what if you can’t afford your dream college? There are billions of affordable colleges in the US, not to mention out of the country, who are willing to enroll you, regardless of how low your SAT scores is, how low your grades are or how antisocial you are. “Go to CUNY,” McHugh jokes. “CUNY will help you save your money for graduate school.” Sincerely, if your dream college doesn’t happen to offer you a decent financial plan, for instance, NYU, then it’s acceptable to find a not-so-renowned college with a great plan. In the end, it’s not what school you graduated from but the fact that you completed four years of college that will help you prosper. A college graduate can make as much as $22,000 more than a high school grad. Not to say that you should apply for just any school; find a school that would best suit you, just in case you can’t go to your dream college.

But if you really, really, really want to get into your dream college, do like the old cheery chant and, “Be aggressive! Be be aggressive!!” Strive for all the financial aid that you can get, and trust your ‘inner’ in tuition and the belief that you can get into not only your dream college but any college in the world!!

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