Why is College So Expensive?!
May 19, 2021
Why is college so expensive?
I recently answered this question for a national media outlet.
So, why IS college so expensive? And what can teens and parents do to minimize the cost?
We could ask the same question of buying a car. Most people wouldn't pay the "sticker price” when buying a new car. There is plenty of negotiating room.
The same is true when it comes to paying for college.
Higher education is a business. And businesses can charge what they want, reasonable or not, for their product. It’s your choice to buy a $200 cotton t-shirt from a fancy department store brand, or buy a cotton t-shirt from a discount store.
Parents and high school counselors are in shock over the “sticker price” of college costs. But the truth is, 76% of American students pay on average 56% of the sticker price. International students tend to pay the full cost. As an American, you have to actually WANT to pay full freight. Those that do, are either making the wrong choices or don’t know that they have a choice. There are plenty of discounts and discount ‘stores’ (colleges) that offer the same or a better quality product.
To minimize the costs:
1 Don’t believe the hype about name-brand colleges. 99% of employers don’t care what name is on your diploma. The Dale & Kreuger study of 2011 showed that students who were accepted to name-brand schools yet chose to attend a state university instead earned the same average salaries as those who attended the name-brand schools.
2 Choose a school that wants YOU. Colleges have many reasons for offering admissions to qualified students. It’s not always about grades and test scores although that is an important factor. They also are looking for a diverse campus community. Your activities, the state you are from, your religious background, etc can be something they currently are a little shy on and you may gain acceptance. Looking out of state can sometimes be less expensive than your in-state school.
Don’t forget to consider your regional universities as well. They tend to have a lower price point and smaller classes.
3 Do everything you can to increase ACT/SAT scores. Yes, about 1/2 of the colleges are test optional (at this rare moment) but test optional doesn’t mean test blind. If you have a good to great score, send it. Apply to schools where your test score and GPA is in the top 25 to 10% of the average entering freshmen test score and GPA at that school. Your test score and GPA increases their ranking, and if the school offered academic (merit) scholarships you’ll have a better chance.
4 Applying to schools that offer merit scholarships is where you will get the most money. But if it’s still not enough, many schools may negotiate the financial aid package. Yes, this is a thing!
5 Consider living at home and commuting. Room and board can easily cost $10k per year. Some colleges require first and second-year students to live on campus but this too can be negotiable.
6 You may have heard, "Take classes at a local college or community college’ to shave off time and expense at your 4-year school." Yes, and no. The only way that works is if you are 100% certain as to the 4-year school you will get the degree from and you have done a lot of investigating as to which classes from the community college will transfer 'into your degree program.’ Most colleges when asked will say that "everything transfers." But the college's definition of transfer and yours is completely different. Many tears are shed when teens have taken 30 to 60 hours of dual enrollment or dual credit only to learn that a mere 6 hours are transferring into their degree, and the remaining courses are ‘electives’. They haven't saved any time or money.
Make well-thought-out, well-researched choices. Most people wouldn’t walk into a Tesla show room and say, “I’ll take the red one.” Most of us know we’re only there to drool over the pretty cars but we’re not driving out with one. The same should be true when choosing a college. Make your college list based on financial responsibility.
Your Debt Free College Coach
International best-selling author, TEDxTenayoPaseo speaker, and coach to parents of college-bound teens, Denise Thomas inspires, educates, and equips parents to take an active role in supporting their children to live a life of financial freedom. Her mission is to ‘flip’ the student debt statistic in the U.S.Denise is a 20-year homeschool veteran having homeschooled her two children from Pre-k through high school. Using her proprietary repeatable strategy both attended their first-choice college on 17 scholarships exceeding $199,000, walking out of college with cash in hand. Denise says, you can keep your money. Send your kids to college on other people's cash! “College doesn't have to be a DEBT sentence.”
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