Whether you’re applying for scholarships or taking out a loan, there’s a lot to learn about paying for college. Let us help break it down for you.
First things first, do your homework!
“You need to have a family plan for how to pay for college,’ says Director of Financial Aid, Catherine Ryan. That means parents need to get involved early. “It’s critical that parents are there to not only guide the process, but to ask the big questions about cost.”
Just like it’s important to look at a range of schools, families need to look at a range of prices. Start by visiting each school’s website and checking out the listed direct cost. Next, factor in how much the direct cost will increase each year; typically, a school’s cost increases anywhere from 2-5% over twelve months. If your first choice is on the high end now, it might mean that it’s out of the question four years down the road.
But once the admissions letter arrives,
don’t consider the work to be over.
Now, it’s time to apply for financial aid. Go online and fill out the Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This program is federally funded and is responsible for the billions of dollars in student loans handed out each year. Around 75% of Westfield State’s student population has received some form of financial aid, and students of all ages can apply. Students can apply starting October 1st through February 15th to meet the March 1st deadline.
But applying for financial aid isn’t the only option when it comes paying for college. Westfield State offers a limited amount of merit-based scholarships for incoming freshmen each year determined by the student’s high school GPA and SAT score. There’s also the chance a student can be awarded an outside scholarship.
Outside scholarships can be a great way to receive additional funding for college from unique and out-of-the-box places. Don’t be afraid to speak with your high school guidance counselor, ask around at your church, or even contact your employer. Students can be awarded funds on everything from their grades to their community service activities.
No matter what school you or your student
attends, planning ahead is key.
Parents need to play an active role is figuring out the budget and determining the final cost.
Have more questions? We have answers! Check out our College Survival Guide.