Remember:

While we use “college” to refer to education after high school, there are many different ways to continue your education. Some schools and programs rely on traditional testing and lectures, while others require more hands-on, technical training. It’s important to think about what and how you like to learn as you look at options for education after high school.

Paying for College

The price of college listed on a school’s website is called the sticker price. This price can be overwhelming! The good news is few people actually pay this full price. The price you pay for college (sticker price minus financial aid and scholarships) is called the net price.

Financial Aid

What is financial aid? Financial aid is the term used for the grants, scholarships, or loans to help you pay tuition. This aid may come from the federal government or directly from your college or university.

What is financial aid? Financial aid is the term used for the grants, scholarships, or loans to help you pay tuition. This aid may come from the federal government or directly from your college or university.

Who gets financial aid? You don’t need straight A’s to get aid – family income is the biggest factor when financial aid is determined. Everyone, regardless of grades or family income, should apply for financial aid.

Key Terms

Need-based:
Financial Aid determined by your family’s income and savings.

Merit-based:
Financial Aid you earn based on your grades and extra-curricular interests, or other qualities.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC):
This is the amount of money your family is believed
to be able to contribute towards tuition annually.

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA):
Launched in October 1st of the year before you enter college (in other words, October of your senior year), this is the application for financial aid. Parents must complete the FAFSA if their child is going to be considered for financial aid.

Demonstrated Need:
The difference between your expected family contribution and the total cost of attendance at a college.

Loans

What are loans? Loans are money that you borrow and need to repay back later. The federal government, state agencies, and private banks or other financial institutions are the largest lenders for college.

What are loans? Loans are money that you borrow and need to repay back later. The federal government, state agencies, and private banks or other financial institutions are the largest lenders for college.

Do I need to take out student loans? You are never required to take out a loan, but sometimes the cost of college isn’t possible without borrowing money.

Key Terms:

  • Interest Rate: The interest rate is the cost of borrowing. This is money that you’ll have to repay in addition to the loan and is usually a percentage of the initial loan amount.
  • Subsidized Loans: The federal government pays the interest on these loans while you are still in school.
  • Need-based Loans: These loans are for students with demonstrated financial need and offered by the federal government.

Parent Contribution

Will my parents help pay for college? This is a conversation you should have with your parents, but your parents may contribute to you college education through income and college savings. If your parents have saved money for college for you, this money will greatly help your ability to pay for college.

Student Contribution

How can I help pay for college? Saving for college shouldn’t fall on your parents alone.

How can I help pay for college? Saving for college shouldn’t fall on your parents alone. If you have a part-time or summer job, put aside some of every paycheck towards college. If you receive money for birthdays, holidays, or graduations, save some of this money as well. Your family and friends will be impressed that you’re so committed to making your college dreams a reality.

Many colleges include an expected student contribution in their financial aid packages. This means they expect you to work during the summer or school-year to contribute to your education.

Scholarships

What are scholarships?

There are many different types of scholarships, but they all have one thing in common: scholarships are money that you don’t need to repay.

What are scholarships?

There are many different types of scholarships, but they all have one thing in common: scholarships are money that you don’t need to repay.

Your college or university may offer institutional scholarships, or you may choose to apply to private, outside scholarships at the state, local, and national level. Applying for scholarships is time well spent. Scholarship money usually reduces the amount of loans you may need to take out.

How do I find and apply for private or outside scholarships?

School counselors and principals are great resources for local scholarships, but online scholarship databases are helpful in finding national scholarships.

Work-Study Programs

What is work-study? A federal program, Work-Study offers part-time jobs to students to help pay for part of their college costs.

Part-Time Jobs: An Earning and Learning Experience

Whether a summer, weekend, or after school position, high school is a perfect time to get your first job. Great first jobs for high school students include working at cafés, restaurants, or grocery stores, and as a lifeguard, landscaper, or painter.

Whether a summer, weekend, or after school position, high school is a perfect time to get your first job. Great first jobs for high school students include working at cafés, restaurants, or grocery stores, and as a lifeguard, landscaper, or painter.

 Earning experience

  • Paychecks and taxes: With your first job comes your first paycheck. While you may have earned money through small jobs for friends or neighbors, a paycheck is noticeably different. The first thing you’ll notice about a paycheck is your income (earned money) is subject to taxes. This means that the government takes out a portion of your earnings to pay for government programs and services. Paying taxes is an important part of your civic duty – but it’s also a requirement of the law!
  • Saving and spending: On payday, you’ll have to decide what to do with your post-tax income. It can be difficult to resist spending your paycheck on clothing, food, and movie or concert tickets. This is probably the first time you’re earning money independent of your parents, but the freedom to spend your own money is also a great responsibility. Develop responsible financial habits by budgeting your income. Dedicate a portion of that income to spending, but save some of it for college as well. The amount may be small, but every dollar makes a difference when you’re investing in your future.

Learning experience             

  • Professionalism: Part-time jobs teach valuable skills, like time-management, accountability, and responsibility. You’ll learn what skills and qualities are valued in the workplace
  • Community engagement: Just as colleges like to see that their applicants are involved in sports, plays, or music, they understand that part-time jobs are a part of extra-curricular involvement as well. Holding a part-time job means you’re engaged in your community.
  • Career exploration: Your first job is a great way to take the pulse of what you like do to do. Do you like your job that involves a lot of customer interaction, or would you prefer something more individual? If you work on commission or tips, does this motivate you more than just an hourly wage? The answers to these questions may help you narrow down.