Some other College Options for Affordability
Many people are frightened about the prospect of college because of the costs. Tuition, fees, books, room, and board can mount to astronomical amounts depending on where you choose to go. There are many financing options, which there have always been, but the reality of this is that the student or parent will incur a large amount of debt. Students have always had challenges financing college. However, the costs of many four year private schools have become increasingly difficult to manage as debt because the salaries have not increased for almost a decade. Without the salary increases to match inflation, the debt looms as a huge dark cloud in what should be a rather pleasant transition in a teen’s life.
There are options. There are ways to finance college through grants, ROTC, work-study and loans. The process to discern how to pay for college is under a lot of scrutiny now, as it really should be. For about 15 years in the US, parents really felt that incurring large debt was the norm because they felt that they would have no issues with payment over time. Many even took out mortgages on their homes to finance their children’s education. For decades before, parents often did not finance their children’s college tuition. Many offered support but students themselves used a variety of methods to pay for college. There are actually 100 colleges you can go to for free!
Over the past decade colleges have all tried to establish ways to make at least tuition and fees affordable for many middle class and lower economic earning families and students. Another way to make college affordable which is accessible to almost any student in the US is community college. Community college for two full years’ tuition and fees only in a public community college is on average $17K for the Associate’s degree. From that status, the student can go on to a full four year school and get a Bachelor’s at far less cost than 4 years at a private college while boarding on campus.
Thinking through the equation of debt and financing the degree has become a more vocal discussion in the recent years. I applaud this change. I do believe that valuation of the degree is important for the student to truly appreciate this stage of his or her academic career. The degree is a valuable tool to navigate life. Making a prudent decision of how to finance the degree shows maturity.
The good news is that almost all public community colleges actually aware 100% free tuition. Yes! It is true. The free tuition is usually a combination of grants and scholarships that the school provides. There is also a combination of free online courses and other in class courses that make the Associate’s even less expensive. Scholarships are awarded for merit not simply need, so those truly earnest students who want to achieve and work for the full Associate’s degree will be rewarded with a zero balance.
How do you find out about free tuition? How do you apply for it? Like anything in life that is awarded, there is a process. Yes, you have to do the groundwork. You have to fill out the forms and apply. Good news is that each school has a department of people in financial aid and assistance that are just waiting to hear from you. Call them!
One more plug for local community colleges, community colleges for almost all those who want to pursue a degree or certification are free. You do not necessarily have to pursue a four year degree upon completion or do you have to actually get an Associates because there are certification programs that are viable career options. Many are amazingly supportive with technology certifications, paralegal programs, daycare center directors, sommelier programs, vocational or trade programs, and even culinary arts. There are many, many people who do not want 4 year degrees but want the education to help support careers that accompany other marketable skills and talents.