Top Financial Factors to Consider When Choosing College
By Laura McElroy

The educational process involves one important decision after another. Decision making starts as early as kindergarten, or even earlier – parents will choose where to bring up families depending on the quality of educational institutions they kids can attend there. So, it would be fair to say that education not only gets people to make the choices, it also influences the choices in other spheres of life.

But while your parent might have chosen to enroll you in one of the best Hobart schools, for example, choosing a college is likely to be your assignment. You’ll have to finish it, too, and you might have to bear the financial weight of higher education. So here are the top financial factors you have to navigate when choosing a college.

The Cost

If you or your parents aren’t paying for college, or if you have a fund set up to cover the costs, then you don’t have to worry about it. For most people, however, the cost is the first and the most important factor to consider.

Don’t forget that costs aren’t limited to tuition fees. Someone’s got to pay your room and board too, so make sure you add those up to the tuition fees to get a more realistic estimate of how much your college will cost you. Don’t forget about the application fees, either – these can add up quickly, too.

Access to Financial Aid

Many colleges will offer students one form of financial aid or another. Some colleges don’t, so finding out which ones they are will help you cross some colleges from your list – if you think you’ll need financial aid.

You should know that a college can offer different types of financial assistances based on different criteria. However, you should also look into scholarships you might qualify for and see if the school can help you apply for grants.

The Debt

More and more college students are choosing to finance their studies by taking student loans. To be fair, for many the choice is non-existent – there’s such a premium put on higher education right now that people see little choice than to enroll in college as a way of getting a good job.

Those who cannot find any other way to secure funding for their studies go into debt. Every graduation class has a different indebtedness average. You should look for those averages in your top picks for colleges. You might want to look a couple of years in the past, to see if there are any trends.

Work-Study Opportunities

Colleges will have differing views on working while studying. Some will inadvertently make working while studying next to impossible by assigning heavy coursework to their students. Other colleges will do what they can to help – maybe even offer work opportunities to students who need financial assistance.

You should find out what are the attitudes and school policies regarding working and studying. You should also find out, if possible, how many students work while studying at each school. It might happen that the school is very lenient towards working when studying, but still dishes out coursework that simply doesn’t allow it.

Having trouble financing your college isn’t a good reason to give up on it altogether. Sure, it might take an extra effort to find a solution you can live with, and it might take you to a college you haven’t considered at first, but remember – if a college education is what you want to pursue, you should pursue it to the fullest. But make sure that the numbers add up and that you have a financial plan first.

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