Simply looking through the average cost of going to college can make you feel something akin to a panic attack. Can I afford to go to college? What happens if something unexpected occurs? Can I really plan the next several years of my ability to pay for something? Are there financial options available to help me pay for school?
These are just a few of the questions you are going to ask yourself. While we can’t answer all of them in complete detail here, we can tell you two things in no uncertain terms:
- The odds that you can “afford” to go to college are quite high.
- There are resources to help you along the way, particularly if something unforeseen occurs.
Tips On Paying For College
Again, the short answer to the main question being posed here is yes, you can probably pay for college. However, as you work to determine that, keep in mind some of these tips:
- The “net” price: Let’s say a college you like has the price tag of $80K per year. That sounds like a lot, but that’s not necessarily how much you’re going to pay. Looking for a “net” price means how much you will still be expected to pay after your financial aid and any grants are factored in.
- The best way to compare? What you really want to do is take into account your financial aid and scholarships, as well as the interest expected of you on any loans taken out. This is the price tag you will want to create for any college that grabs your interest.
- Think about your major: College is a chance to follow your dreams. We won’t discourage that, but we would suggest factoring in whether or not your intended major is attractive to a wide range of employers. If not, your ability to repay loans could be impacted. If you haven’t chosen your major yet, consider using this factor to help generate some inspiration.
- Take stock of your resources: For most college students, paying for everything out of pocket just isn’t going to happen. Virtually everyone, to one degree or another, uses the resources available to them. Learn what’s out there for you. This includes any scholarships or grants, as well as potential work-study jobs inherent in your major. If you have any income or savings, factor those in to your resources, as well. Finally, don’t forget the option of student loans is always available to you.
- Determine your best fit: Money is obviously crucial here, but you still also want to factor in your own comfort and happiness. If you aren’t thriving in this thrilling environment, then any amount of money you spend on an institution is going to be a waste of money. Establish a litmus for what is and isn’t acceptable to you from the college of your choice.
Part-time work, student emergency services, and selling old textbooks are also things you can keep in mind, in terms of making sure you can stay afloat during a financial emergency.
Keep in mind the tips we’ve mentioned above, and you should be able to figure out whether or not you can truly afford college.