Cost

College Costs Less Than You Might Think

Most students pay far less than the high prices talked about in the media.

Good news on college prices
Check out these facts about yearly tuition and fees:

Most students pay less than full price
Last year, the average student received almost $11,500 in financial aid. More than half of that money was in grant form. Grants do not have to be repaid. Almost two out of three full-time undergrads received grants.*

Focus on fit, not price
You might be surprised at what you can afford. A school that lists high tuition and fees could cost you the same or less than a lower priced school. Why?

  • You may be eligible for more financial aid at colleges with higher price tags.
  • Most higher-priced colleges give students more grant aid.

Instead of comparing colleges by their price tags, figure out which are the best fit for you, especially as you start your search.

Starting at a two-year college
With planning, patience and determination, you can attend a two-year college, transfer your credits and earn a bachelor’s degree at a four-year college. Students who do this can save on tuition; and they’re as well prepared academically as students who start out at a four-year college.

Like four-year colleges, two-year colleges offer a wide variety of majors, activities and services. For example, about one-third of two-year colleges have honors programs. Visit College MatchMaker to find two-year colleges that are right for you.


* The College Board’s Trends in College Pricing 2010 and Trends in Student Aid 2010 (All price and aid figures refer to undergraduate students)
† The College Board’s Annual Survey of Colleges

Grades

Think You Can’t Get In? Think Again

Graduate or get your GED and you can go—whatever grades you’ve earned. A few hundred four-year colleges and most two-year colleges are open to all high school grads.

Four-year colleges accept more students than you might think
Most four-year colleges admit at least half of all applicants—with almost 500 accepting more than 75 percent of applicants.

Hard work pays off
Graduating from college is the real challenge—one that pays off in more career choices and higher salaries. Get ready for college-level classes by working hard in tough high school courses. Remember: A lower grade in a tougher class can impress colleges more than an easy A.

Challenge yourself now and enjoy these benefits later:

  • More colleges and careers to choose from
  • A smaller chance of needing catch-up classes in college (they don’t usually count toward a degree but still add to college costs)
  • Increased brainpower

Colleges look at more than grades and test scores
Use your application to show who you really are:

  • Identify your strengths so that you can show colleges why you’re a good match. Ask your counselor, teachers, friends and others for help.
  • Share your story. Talk about the obstacles you’ve dealt with to become the person you are today.
  • Shine a spotlight on your jobs and other extracurriculars.

Two-year colleges can take you where you want to go
Many people with bachelor’s degrees—and higher—started out at a two-year college. If you do the same, you can sign up for a transfer program, which will guide you along this path.

Transfer tips: Keep your options open     
Talk to your school counselor as well as advisers at the two-year college where you’ll start and the four-year college where you want to earn your bachelor’s degree. Ask questions like:

  • How can I plan my education in a way that maximizes my transfer opportunities?
  • Which courses will best prepare me for a bachelor’s-degree program?
  • Does the two-year college have a transfer relationship with any four-year colleges? These partnerships help make the transfer experience smoother.

Feeling Overwhelmed

You Don’t Have to Go It Alone

It’s okay if you don’t know where you’re headed or which route to take. Help is out there.

Take the wheel        
On the road to college, you’re the driver. Asking for directions is a smart first step: Tell your teachers, family, friends and neighbors that you’re going and ask questions about their college experiences. Instead of waiting for your school counselor to contact you, make an appointment today.

Ask your counselor or teacher
Try these conversation starters:

  • I’m going to college. What’s my next step?
  • Which colleges would be a good fit for me?
  • Are there special programs or resources that can help me get into college?
  • How do I learn about my financial aid options?
  • If you’re a senior: Can we review my transcript to see how it will look to colleges?
    If you’re not a senior
    : Which classes should I take next year to better prepare myself for college?
  • Where do our graduates go to college? Can I talk to any of them?
  • Do I qualify for test and application fee waivers?
  • Are there local scholarships I should apply for?

Make yourself a home on campus     
You’ll enjoy greater independence at college, but you can still ask for help when you need it. Become an active member of the campus community and take advantage of all the resources offered by college clubs and services, including:

  • Advisers to help you pick your classes and choose a major
  • Peer mentors (experienced students who can help you navigate college)
  • Tutoring
  • Free feedback on your essays and research papers
  • Study-skills workshops and guided study groups
  • Career fairs, guest speakers and other special events

Some services are designed for specific groups, like minority students and students who are the first in their family to go to college.

Customize a college search
With College MatchMaker, you can figure out what you want in a college and perform a custom search. For instance, you can use the Specialized Options page to:

  • Find colleges with a high percentage of minority students.
  • Search for colleges by the type of disability for which you need services.

Responsibilities

Make College a Top Priority

You can continue your studies even if you have greater commitments than the average student. It’ll be challenging, but worth it—and juggling responsibilities and managing your time is a skill colleges look for.

Colleges that meet your needs
With competing demands on your time, you might need to do some creative scheduling. Most colleges offer courses that meet outside the standard workweek to give you more flexibility.
    
Going part time and living off campus (commuting) is most common at two-year colleges, where almost all students commute. Still:

  • At over 500 four-year colleges at least 40 percent of freshmen commute.
  • At almost 200 four-year colleges, at least 40 percent of degree-seeking undergrads attend part time.

Greater career choice, increased job security and more money
A college diploma unlocks the door to opportunity. The knowledge and skills you’ll build and the experience you’ll get facing the challenges of college will help you adapt to a greater variety of jobs and careers.

What can a college diploma help you do?

  • Get a job: Of the 30 careers expected to grow the fastest, 19 typically require an associate degree or higher.* And it’s expected that nearly half of new jobs will typically require at least some formal training after high school.**
  • Keep a job: The unemployment rate for people with bachelor’s degrees was about half the rate for high school graduates in 2009.†
  • Make more money: The median yearly earnings of workers with bachelor’s degrees were over $20,000 higher than the earnings of those with only a high school diploma.‡


A chance to invest in yourself and build on your strengths
College pays off in other ways too. Inside the classroom and out, you’ll encounter new ideas and challenges. Along the way, you will:

  • Increase your brainpower
  • Discover new passions
  • Learn more about yourself
  • Bond with new friends

 

* Fastest Growing Occupations, 2008-18. The Bureau of Labor Statistics.
** Monthly Labor Review. November 2009. p. 88
† Unemployment Rates Among Individuals Ages 25 and Older, by Education Level, 1992-2009. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010. (Unemployment was 9.7 percent for high school graduates and 4.6 percent for those with bachelor’s degrees.)
‡ 2008 median earnings for full-time workers at least 25 years old. U.S. Census Bureau. See Cost for more detail.

Gabriela

Snapshot

Year in college
Junior
Major
Biochemistry
Family income
Under $20,000
College path
Two-year college to private four-year college
Favorite movie
Pan’s Labyrinth
Favorite book
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Favorite actor
Ian McKellen
Describes herself as
Hardworking, outgoing and spiritual
College was very important to Gabriela and her family, but she worried that her status as an undocumented student would keep her from going.
Her obstacle 

Gabriela loved school and earned high grades, but as an undocumented student, she didn’t know if college was a possibility. Her family was supportive, but they were unfamiliar with the admission process and how to finance her education. They wondered how they could afford college — especially after Gabriela discovered that in her state, undocumented students have to pay out-of-state tuition at public colleges.

How she overcame it 

Because Gabriela was facing out-of-state tuition costs, she decided that a local two-year college was the right place to begin her education. She was lucky enough to have a high school counselor she describes as a “total whiz about colleges all over the United States.” That counselor recommended a community college in the area with an honors program that offered scholarships to accepted students. Gabriela discovered that it's often easier for undocumented students to get into and receive financial support from private colleges. So she decided that after earning an associate degree at her two-year college, she would transfer to a private four-year college.

Life at college 

Gabriela loved that her community college had small classes and she could get one-on-one feedback from professors. Her favorite professor taught English and helped her improve her writing skills. He was very patient," she said. “I would visit his classroom … every day, just to keep asking him about the same assignment … I came out of the class knowing so much more about essay writing, about everything. Gabriela was accepted at a private four-year college that awarded her enough scholarship money to cover about half her costs. To help make the transition to a new school farther from home, Gabriela found on-campus resources and a support network of students who shared similar experiences. She is studying biochemistry, hoping to attend graduate school and then pursue a career as a teacher or researcher. And though the college planning process was overwhelming at times, she says it was worth it. I have definitely been very happy with my college experience. It has been rough but very fun and rewarding. These are wonderful memories I will always have.

YTI Career Institute: York

Id: 
3602
Address line 1: 
1405 Williams Road
City: 
York
State: 
Pennsylvania
Zip code: 
17402
Latitude: 
39.9915
Longitude: 
-76.66
Open admissions: 
yes
For-profit School: 
yes
Community College: 
no
Years of Study: 
2 Year

Yuba Community College District

Id: 
2711
Address line 1: 
2088 North Beale Road
City: 
Marysville
State: 
California
Zip code: 
95901
Latitude: 
39.1241
Longitude: 
-121.542
Open admissions: 
yes
For-profit School: 
no
Community College: 
yes
Years of Study: 
2 Year

Zane State College

Id: 
1216
Address line 1: 
1555 Newark Road
City: 
Zanesville
State: 
Ohio
Zip code: 
43701
Latitude: 
39.9603
Longitude: 
-82.033
Open admissions: 
yes
For-profit School: 
no
Community College: 
yes
Years of Study: 
2 Year

Zion Bible College

Id: 
4161
Address line 1: 
320 South Main Street
City: 
Haverhill
State: 
Massachusetts
Zip code: 
1835
Latitude: 
42.7664
Longitude: 
-71.0798
For-profit School: 
no
Community College: 
no
Years of Study: 
4 Year

Youngstown State University

Id: 
3790
Address line 1: 
One University Plaza
City: 
Youngstown
State: 
Ohio
Zip code: 
44555
Latitude: 
41.107
Longitude: 
-80.6468
Open admissions: 
yes
For-profit School: 
no
Community College: 
no
Years of Study: 
4 Year
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