by Beth Bruno
Creative College Financing
QUESTION: College costs are staggering these days. Do
you have any information about scholarships and other ways to make higher
education more affordable?
ANSWER: Many parents have written to me about the financial
strain of college costs, as colleges continue to raise fees at two times
the rate of inflation or more. Parents should not have to mortgage themselves
to the hilt and jeopardize their financial security in retirement to pay
for a child's college education. Retirement costs are rising almost as
fast as tuitions are.
Parents and other adults want and need college degrees and advanced
training, too. In today's labor market it's no longer unusual to change
jobs, even to change careers, several times in a lifetime. Therefore, parents
and children may find themselves in competition for family tuition dollars.
Despite such obstacles, there are ways to attend college AND avoid crushing
debt. Some of the ways resourceful families do it include the following:
Attend a local college and live at home.
Work part-time and attend school part-time, too, if necessary. By working
and studying year-round, it may take five or six years to earn a degree,
but work experience and graduation without debt are well worth it.
Attend junior college for two years (for lower tuitions); then transfer
to a four-year university when you have established your major field of
Accept delayed admission to your college of choice in order to work for
a year to save money toward expenses.
Work full-time and attend night school. If courses are job related, your
company may pick up the tab.
Join ROTC for excellent financial support. (Military service is required
after graduation. Also, this option has become increasingly competitive
as the military downsizes.)
Graduate from high school with honors and apply for merit scholarships.
If you have special musical, artistic, or literary talents, be sure to
send colleges samples of your best work when you apply. Don't avoid the
less well-known, smaller colleges that compete (with dollars) for top students.
Talented athletes can explore available athletic scholarships.
Check to see whether your high school offers courses that may carry college
credit, under Advanced Placement or other programs.
Colleges can contribute by lowering tuitions, foregoing their tax-exempt
status or paying a fixed percentage from their endowment funds to social
Finally, government can help. Many European universities educate qualified
residents tuition-free; and so can we. Major shifts in spending priorities
would make it possible, without raising taxes. While phasing in the changes,
lawmakers could establish tuition tax credits or tax deductions for college
and trade school expenditures.
INTERNET LEADS for COLLEGE FINANCING
The Internet is fertile ground for further information about scholarships,
fellowships, financial aid and creative financing ideas from college students
themselves. After you visit the following websites, if you still need more
ideas, search engines can help you track them down.
2001 Connecticut Colleges and Universities is a site that presents admissions requirements, online applications and information about scholarships and financial aid to dozens of Connecticut colleges and universities.
Ways to Pay for College is a colorful site, full of stories from college students nationwide, about how they earned money to pay college costs.
College and University Study Abroad can reduce costs, but be sure the degree or credits you earn will transfer stateside.
College Connection constantly updates its extensive scholarship listings.
Beth Bruno firstname.lastname@example.org
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