The Cost of Going to College

Go to college, get a job. College education is discussed as though holding a degree will automatically increase your personal worth and value to potential employers, and society.  Community colleges and trade schools receive less focus than "getting in to a good university."  Financial aid is a necessity for most students. Since "aid" is predominantly loans the average college student leaves college, either through graduation or quitting, heavily in debt to the federal government.  College degrees are not the only qualification that makes people employable.   

The idea of going to college cheaper sounds impossible.  Community colleges and trade schools are a much better alternative for many students.  Community college tuition is cheaper than four year colleges and universities.  Going to college requires careful consideration and analysis of all factors that impact student success before, during, and after attendance.  Not all kids are right for college, and in many cases, community colleges or a trade school program is smarter, cheaper, and a better fit. 

Things You Will Need

financial plan
career idea
motivation to save money and go to school

Step 1

Finance guru Suze Orman cautions against going to a university unless you have the financial means as well as the grades to get into a good school or program. This may sound harsh, however, calculating the amount of student loan debt many college graduates have and are accruing, in addition to the type of employment that graduates find, it is realistic.

Analyze your financial situation. Check your free credit report. Education finance is hard for some people and not everyone qualifies for student financial aid. Consider whether you have family support to help pay for an education from a good university? It makes more financial sense for many degrees to go to a community college or trade school instead of a fancy university (or "just" a state college).

Step 2

Think employment. Choose a trade school instead of traditional college. If you have a specific career you want and there is a trade school that offers you training in that area, do it. This will likely make you more skilled as well as better focused on the career you want. There are many trade schools offering programs with high paying careers. Additionally, you are usually required to do an apprentice program with that which will give you hands on experience.

Step 3

Go to a community college. There are a few reasons for this. First, if you plan to go on to get a Bachelor's or Master's Degree, you can transfer an Associate degree. The first two years of college are prerequisites and transferring to a four year college and after that is relatively easy. Secondly, it saves a lot of money, and you will most likely be in smaller classes and can have a chance at a better student to teacher ratio. Third, community colleges are full of technical programs geared toward completion of certificates, or very specific degrees. These technical programs offer you the opportunity to go to the college cheaper and for less time, yet you can still receive a degree in computer programming, construction management, welding, medical assistant, paralegals, and the list is only limited by the colleges you are thinking about attending.

Step 4

Evaluate College and Career Options

This is not to say, "don't go to college." Instead, sit down and think about different plans and career options. Taking your financial situation into account is a must. Some lenders are refusing to consolidate student loans for graduates now because of the economic depression. The average debt of a college student varies according to school, but it is significant. Deciding whether or not you want to start out your career in the hole is something to heavily consider.

Step 5

Think about how employable you will be after going to school for four to six years and whether or not you would be better served by choosing one of the options above. It is not for everyone. If you want a degree in Social Work or Law, then higher education is a must, however, know that you will be paying higher amounts for that education.

If you a large amount of student financial aid out will you be able to afford payments later? Once student loans have been borrowed they can be tracked on a student loan database.

Step 6

All of this applies to people who are going back to school or doing worker retraining programs. Second careers are more common these days and people of any age can go to a university or to the local community college. What is practical in your life? There are often great incentives to pick a trade, go to school for one to two years, and then get hired through apprentice programs. Whether you choose to go to community college or elsewhere you will need to get classroom school supplies. If you have any learning disability (or other disabilities) then before class starts contact the school for classroom help/accommodation. This helps many students through college.

Tips & Warnings

*A higher priced education does not equal a better quality education.
*Graduating from any programs is something to be proud of and work toward.