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How can I Afford College in the United States?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 October 2017
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College education in the United States can be extremely expensive, especially if a student attends a private university or wishes to pursue graduate work. A perceived inability to afford college should never stop a student from pursuing what he or she wants, however. With some work, it is possible to afford college in the United States, by seeking out ways to make it less expensive, and by finding funding to assist students. Although a student may have to incur debt to go to college, it is possible to afford college, no matter what economic class the student comes form.

One of the best ways to afford college is to make college less expensive. Each US state has a individual state college and university system. Many of these schools are of very high quality, and they are also relatively inexpensive, because they are supported through state funding. State schools with different areas of focus can be found for students looking to pursue a specific degree, and the schools often offer affordable housing as well.

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However, a student should not feel limited to state college if he or she wants to go somewhere else. Once accepted at a college, students are offered a financial aid package. The package indicates how much money the college will offer the student if he or she chooses to pursue an education there. Students should not view financial aid as a final offer, however, especially if they are academically talented. By working with the financial aid office and pursuing outside avenues of a funding, a student should be able to afford college.

The Federal Government offers numerous loans and grants to help Americans afford college. To be eligible, a student must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This form is also transmitted to the financial aid office, and is used to determine how much money a college offers a student. By filling out a FAFSA, students are placed into consideration for loans, grants, and scholarships. In addition, many states offer individual funding programs to students.

Scholarships and grants are, of course, preferable to loans. Students can get information about college-specific scholarships which may help them afford college through the student aid office. They can also apply for national scholarship and grant programs. Several organizations maintain extensive scholarship listings online to help students afford college.

Finally, some students may need to take out student loans to afford college. The best loans are those which are offered through the Federal government, because they have extremely low interest rates and very forgiving repayment programs. If a student is not eligible for Federal aid and is forced to pursue a private lender, caution should be taken when applying for loans. The paperwork should be read completely, so that the student understands the interest rate being offered and the repayment plan. Some loan programs prey on college students, and seeking out the advice of a financial aid officer or financial expert may be a good idea.

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Babalaas
Post 2

@ Fiorite - Those are great pieces of advice for making college more affordable. I was given some financial advice before I started college and I was told that I should never take out more school loans than I could expect to make in a year's salary. If I could expect to make $45,000 a year, within a couple of years of graduating with a bachelor's degree in engineering, then it would be reasonable to borrow up to that amount.

Fiorite
Post 1

Funding college can be tough, but there are ways to lessen the cost of college; even at a private school. From my own personal experience I found the best way to get through college with as little debt as possible is to maximize your tuition dollars. Most schools charge a flat rate for full-time tuition regardless of if you take 12 credit hours or 18 credit hours. Taking the most credits allowable can lead to early graduation. The savings at a state school from graduating a year early can be $25,000 while the savings at a private school can be upwards of $40,000. Another consideration is to enroll in an accelerated masters program that will allow you to complete a baccalaureate and master's degree in five years. It will take lots of hard work, but the payoff will be worthwhile.

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