In an article last November, Peter Orszag reported on the diminished prospects for kids in or just out of college. It goes without saying that college is a trying time for many students figuring out what they want to do with their lives amidst writing papers, attending lectures, and attempting to foster a social life of some kind.
As hectic as college is, Peter Orszag mentions the three other challenges that students out of college face: a weak labor market, a long-term shift toward globalization in labor, and rising tuition. You might not be able to do much about the first two, but with these tips you can tackle tuition troubles.
Funding and financial aid are the initial avenues college students will pursue. Some forms of funding to keep an eye on:
Scholarships: All parents hope for a full-ride scholarship, but these are difficult to obtain. Even with excellent grades and extracurriculars, full-ride scholarships are highly competitive. Fortunately, many schools offer smaller scholarships based on ethnicity, background, area of study, and several other qualifications. Smaller scholarships are not a well-known, so you won’t have to deal with as much competition. Even a few of these smaller scholarships can make a pretty big dent in your tuition.
FAFSA: The Free Application for Federal Student Aid determines a student’s eligibility for student financial aid in all forms, including grants, loans, and work study programs. Grants are the best option here as you won’t have to pay them back. Many students are eligible for subsidized loans, but be aware that you’ll have to pay them back once you graduate.
Employer Subsidies: Plenty of employers are willing to pay thousands of dollars of your education per year, even up to full tuition. Companies offering college reimbursement benefits include Google, Boeing, UPS, and Bank of America. Depending on the company, these benefits have various requirements. Some require that you work a whole year before you receive college reimbursement. Others require that you remain an employee one to three years after you graduate.
Once you’re in school, your priority should be finishing early. You can (and should) still make new friends, take fun classes, and do the things you want, but graduating even a year earlier means paying less for tuition.
Take as many credits as possible per term. Some universities have caps on how many classes you can take, but most won’t differentiate between 12 and 21. You should consider attending summer school and online classes as well. Summer term classes often cost less than the rest of the year. Online classes reduce your transportation and housing costs and allow you more time to work to afford your education.
Modern society tends to hold higher education above all else, but it’s a false and sometimes damaging way to look at college. The article by Peter Orszag only goes to show how much we need to rethink higher education and its place in our lives.