Op-Ed 3-8-13

Finding financial aid and ways to reduce the costs of college

By Preston Reugebrink

Financial Aid

Financial Aid

One worry of many students going off to college is figuring out how much they will receive in financial aid and the many ways of reducing college costs. An easy way to compare offers and determine your overall net cost is to subtract all of your grant, scholarship and other free aid from your cost of attendance. Always remember that all colleges have different ways of giving financial aid as well as different attendance costs.

First, add up all of your total college costs: tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, computer allowance, other fees and other costs. Then subtract the cost you got there from all of your aid: Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity, TEACH Grant, Cal Grant, other grants, scholarships and institution-based aid. This will give you your overall out of pocket expenses to attend the college you have chosen.

There are many ways for students to reduce their costs of college. The first step would be to look into taking as many Advanced Placement courses as possible in high school and then take the exams to earn early college credit.

Apply for as many scholarships as possible by discussing with your counselor all the ways to find scholarships through community organizations, foundations, religious organizations, neighborhood banks and business and trade organizations. LHS Academic Advisor Janet McHenry emails information about all scholarship information received at LHS to all seniors.

Students can also have work-learn experiences, which incorporate paid work experience with classroom studies.

Additionally, you can choose to start at a California community college, which will save thousands of dollars in tuition because of already having completed the general-ed requirements.

One option for younger students reading this is to actively participate in community service projects by being a volunteer – which will improve your profile for scholarships, netting thousands of dollars for college.

You can also get a part-time job by working over the summer or holidays. Also, the United States Armed Forces offer education benefits to people who enlist for college assistance and tuition and provide many scholarships through the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.

There are numerous options for students to help reduce their college costs.

As seniors begin to get their various financial offers from colleges to which they have applied, they should make a chart that compares the various kinds of aid — scholarships, grants, loans, and work study, said McHenry.

“Seniors should sit down with their parents, create a realistic budget, see if they can whittle away some of the costs, and then compare the offers,” she said. “Sometimes the financial aid can help make the decision, especially if the costs over the long haul will be significantly less at one college..”

However, she noted that “money isn’t everything.” Program excellence matters, too.


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