College is big business and should be treated as such. And like big business, it can make decisions that favor revenue rather than their procedures. Negotiations and appeals are part of that process that allows the applicant to circle back and argue a better rational for college entrance and funding. One interesting trick of the trade is comparing in state colleges to private colleges. It is somewhat surprising to learn that although the gross cost of college is cheaper at the state university, it may actually be cheaper at the private university because they may offer more financial aid. The net cost is the financial reference point of affordability and needs to be explored before a final decision is made.
You may have inherent value in your talents, skills or hobbies that can be attractive to a college or university. After all, a student’s unique personality and character traits can be a boost to public relations for the school. Extra curricular activities, summer employment and letters of recommendation can be the tipping point in the balance sheet of decision on entrance and extra funding. But you still need good grades and high exam scores on the standardized SAT and ACT tests. Even a well-written essay that reveals a person’s values, beliefs and life goals can be appealing to a school. All these ancillary items can turn into financial aid, so it’s worth citing.
Financial aid in the form of loans is only as good as the repayment strategy. Millennial graduates are discovering this painful reality with significant student debt, which can approach and top six figures. Adding that to a budget can delay buying a home, considering marriage or starting a family. Student loans may require 10 to 15 years to pay off. So it’s just as important to have a repayment plan that fits with your post graduate budget, as it is to land these loans to finance your education.
Junior college can be a great strategy if you go to school, work during breaks, live at home and save money. Some high schools have relationships with community colleges that extend college courses concurrently to their students who are then able to graduate high school with an associate’s degree without paying for it. It’s amazing to discover how many students didn’t take advantage of summer and holiday employment to offset college expenses. Working is also a learned life skill and having job experience during your school years can have an impact on landing a job after you graduate. It’s your life. It’s your time. It’s your money.