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How on earth do people pay for college?

katenskatens 22 replies18 threads Junior Member
So, I'm currently a senior in high school and trying to decide what college I want to go to. I've already applied to 7 and been accepted into 5 and plan on applying to at least 5 more.

My issue is that the reason why I'm applying to so many is that depends on where I can get into and how much I have to pay. My parents cant pay for any of it so it's all left to me.

Colleges are either too expensive, isolated in the middle of nowhere, don't have a high reputation, not as great academics, or a bad campus. All the schools I want to go to are either to expensive or affordable but not reputable enough to get into as good of a grad school as a psychology major. And I'm just wondering how in the world do people afford to go to college when their major they pick does not make that much money. Like how do those colleges have students.

Idk thanks and sorry for reading my rant, I'm just GENUINELY confused how so many people are able to go to expensive colleges.
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Replies to: How on earth do people pay for college?

  • svlab112svlab112 652 replies7 threads Member
    edited December 2019
    I started saving for my kid’s college almost when they were born.

    That being said, I lived at home while attending college. I commuted to community college then commuted to a low ranked state school. Most of my friends were off to places like San Diego and Santa Barbara.

    I did however get good grades. Grad school acceptances were good.

    Another friend, attend expensive OOS and then attended Cornell law school. She is nearly 55 and still paying off student loans.

    So maybe your college selection won’t be your first or even second choice.

    Don’t worry about prestige go where you can afford and do well.
    edited December 2019
    Post edited by mom2collegekids on
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  • CaMom13CaMom13 2199 replies14 threads Senior Member
    @katens - I don't know if this helps but there are various ways that students can/do attend expensive colleges. The most obvious is they have wealthy parents or just parents who saved lots of money for college. The next possibility is they have families who are un-wealthy enough to qualify for good financial aid. Many very expensive colleges are generous with need based packages. The third big one is debt financing - parents borrow big with the assumption that the child's degree will help them repay the money. Roughly 70% of college students graduate with some debt (avg is around 30k) but around 10% of those students will have excessive debt. Honestly, none of this really matters to you but I wanted to answer your question.

    It seems to me you probably need to get some better college counseling. The first question to consider when making a school list is what you can afford and which schools will offer you need based and merit aid. There are lots of people here who can offer guidance if you're interested in providing more concrete info on your grades, scores, location and family income/assets. I hope you can get the advice you need soon!
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 30017 replies59 threads Senior Member
    How do students pay for college? For kids like you, coming directly out of highschool, just slipping into adulthood, clearly very few of you can pay much for college.just as your living expenses and other things are paid for by oat parents, so is college, to varying degrees. Most kids who go away to college have some, if not most, even all of their college paid by parents. In fact, the financial aid model that colleges use, assume , even require parental contributions according to parental
    Income and assets.

    Unless you fall under exceptions such as being married, having a child, being a veteran, a ward of the state and some other exceptions, your parents’ finances(custodial parent and spouse only if divorced) have to be disclosed to get financial aid until you turn 24.

    Basically, college looks to past, present and future earnings, yours and your parents’ in paying fir college. Past in your savings, present in what you and parents are earning and will be earning in during college years, and future in loans. If there are no savings, you gotta pay more out of pocket or take loans to meet the costs.

    There are merit scholarships in the picture for those students some colleges most want. There are also less expensive options, like commuting from parents’ home so that they can continue to cover basic living costs, going to an inexoensive school like community college or state schools, going part time and working to meet expenses.

    It’s advised to put together a college list based on finances. How much are your parents willing and able to pay? How about you? What schools might pay for you? What is your FAFSA EFC? What are the NOCs for schools that are possibilities and of interest ?

    If your parents are truly not going to pay anything for college, and their financials through the FAFSA and NPCs are expecting money from them, the. You need to come up with the money yourself, working your way through college , borrowing ( you can most likely borrow $5500 freshman year with a little more each year on your own) , and getting scholarships. By living with your parents, living expenses can be defrayed.

    You need to go through these options to see what is viable for you.
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  • austinmshauriaustinmshauri 9466 replies359 threads Senior Member
    edited December 2019
    SAT: 1400 after taking it twice, ACT: 30 superscored, GPA: 97 out of 100

    Have you run the Net Price Calculator for each school? That will tell you how much you might be expected to pay and if you'll get any merit or need based aid.

    Do you know your FAFSA EFC? If your family is low income you may qualify for a Pell Grant of up to ~$6k/year.

    Since you're a NYS resident you can apply for NYS grants too. Check the HESC website to read about the different types that are offered. You can only get one, so if you're eligible for different grants pick the one with the best terms.
      The Excelsior Grant offers up to $7k/year, but it only goes toward SUNY tuition and it doesn't stack with other awards. So if you get a $5k/year Pell Grant you'd only get a $2k Excelsior Grant. And you're required to work in NYS for a specific amount of time after graduation or the grants turn into a loan.
      The NYS Tuition Assistance Program (TAP Grant) offers up to $5100/year. You can take a full TAP Grant and a full Pell Grant at the same time. And you don't have to live in NYS after you graduate. But the income eligibility cap for a full TAP Grant is lower than the Excelsior by over $30k.
      The NYS STEM Grant is for students pursuing a STEM degree. They have to meet certain requirements, so check the website to see if you're eligible.

    Students who file the FAFSA can also take the ~$5500/year federal student loan, and if they work summers they can earn ~$3k. That's another ~$8k/year. If your parents earn too much to qualify for need based aid but can't pay anything you may be able to commute to a local 4-year SUNY. If you're lower income then you need to look for need based and/or merit aid. A lot of NYS residents start at their local community college and transfer, but if you can get enough aid at a 4 year college to make it work then do that. Transfers don't get much aid.
    edited December 2019
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  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Forum Champion Financial Aid, Forum Champion Alabama 84309 replies1048 threads Forum Champion
    are you low income? what is your FAFSA EFC?

    you may be applying to many schools, but they may not be schools that will work out for you.

    you need a better strategy.

    what schools are within commuting distance from your home?

    what is your home state?
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  • austinmshauriaustinmshauri 9466 replies359 threads Senior Member
    @mom2collegekids, I read over some of OP's previous threads this morning because I know they're also NYS residents. OP thinks their family qualifies for the Excelsior Grant, so @sybbie719 may have some suggestions, but OP's parents are divorced. That makes it more complicated.
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  • melvin123melvin123 1658 replies23 threads Senior Member
    My dad paid for his education through an ROTC scholarship/commitment.

    My parents paid for mine, but I went to a state school and I shaved a year off by having AP credits and taking an extra class every semester, which doesn’t cost any more.

    My cousin paid for hers by commuting from home, going to a school that gave her a partial scholarship, and working part-time with a company that gave workers some money towards college.

    I know a couple of people who worked full time and their companies paid for their education which they did part-time.
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 6061 replies26 threads Senior Member
    I followed the exact path as @svlab112. Because when you don't have money you have limited options. I did get financial aid for college. Went to local state school but not the name brand ones that my friends went to. I knew plenty of people in my same situation.. Lived at home. Worked during school. Went to community College first for 1 year. Got into medical school etc.

    When your poor or low income you sometimes have to take another avenue for success. Makes you more creative.. Lol. It doesn't mean you can't accomplish your goals. Just might need to take a different path to get there.

    If you have affordable options then that is what you want now. Not name brand schools. Rise to the top of your affordable school by getting involved and getting good to great grades. This will help make you successful.

    If you have a chance at no to low debt then do that.

    Looking back on it I actually enjoyed my time at community College then no name brand local school. It's all what you make of it. Plus not having many options made my decisions even easier.. Lol.
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  • ordinarylivesordinarylives 3212 replies44 threads Senior Member
    My family was low income, so I was pretty much on my own, too. But I got Pell, SEOG, state grant and a scholarship, but that generous scholarship came from a school you might turn up your nose at. Got into grad school (state school) with funding. You may want to give those affordable schools a second look. Schools without any sort of national ranking can have a great local reputation and provide a fine education. I don’t know what you mean by a "bad campus."

    Lots of tips have been given. Commute. Start at community college, or at a branch of the state college you can commute to. When you have a budget, look at guaranteed merit, especially in some of those middle of nowhere schools.
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  • cshell2cshell2 941 replies11 threads Member
    katens wrote: »
    I'm just GENUINELY confused how so many people are able to go to expensive colleges.

    Parental funding, big scholarships or getting into a college that covers 100% of need...

    Everyone has different resources, but you have to work with what you have. If you're low income you have options, it's the kids of high income parents that won't/can't help that have it the worst.

    Don't worry about prestige or how nice the campus is. Focus on what is affordable for you. If you're thinking about graduate school the last thing you want to do is run up a bunch of debt on undergrad first.
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  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 42516 replies460 threads Senior Member
    What's your EFC? If you don't know, go to FAFSA4caster then let us know.
    Run the NPC on various universities - try it with Clark (top-notch psychology), Wooster, Allegheny, Muhlenberg, Lafayette, Dickinson as well as Being and Geneseo.
    Which 2 are the cheapest?
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  • Racingfan53Racingfan53 150 replies8 threads Junior Member
    Gonna throw another example in here--I met a young man over the summer who is studying choral conducting at Yale. He's extremely intelligent. He went to some low-level public U for undergrad. I don't even remember the name.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 80979 replies727 threads Senior Member
    edited December 2019
    katens wrote: »
    Idk thanks and sorry for reading my rant, I'm just GENUINELY confused how so many people are able to go to expensive colleges.

    1. Have generous parents with money.
    2. Get admitted to colleges that gives sufficient financial aid for their family financial situation. (Did you run the net price calculator on the web site of each college before applying?)
    3. Applied to colleges with large merit scholarships where they are at the top end of the class range so that they are likely to win such large merit scholarships.

    A generation or two ago, it was possible to earn enough money in a high school graduate job to be self-supporting, while having some left over to pay the small in-state public university tuition and books for college. But that is much less possible now than when your parents were college age.
    edited December 2019
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 30017 replies59 threads Senior Member
    The average college student does NOT live on campus, but with family, commutes to college, and works part or full time.

    If OP is a NY resident, chances are good s/he can get most of tuition covered, in worst case scenario by $5500 loan. If parents will cover 3 squares and a cot, and a roof over head, a part time can do the rest. TAP, Excelsior as well as federal funds possibly depending on parent financials
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  • Happytimes2001Happytimes2001 1832 replies13 threads Senior Member
    They either start saving when their children are born ( rare if they live in expensive areas or really anywhere). Or, they get a windfall by selling a business, inheriting or they make a lot of money so they can take it out of their income. Or some combination of the above.
    Finally, college is a long term investment in yourself. The difference in money you will make during your lifetime will outweigh the costs ( if you proceed cautiously and have a plan to have a career that pays). Just as you wouldn't buy a house without considering many factors, you should also consider all aspects of your education including the costs.
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