Making a Plan to Pay for College

SATs, transcripts, college apps and statements, letters of rec, campus visits. With all of the chaos of applying for college sometimes we try to ignore or put off the idea of the cost of all this until after we do get accepted. Scholarships can help but with tuition on the rise, how much will that four year degree end up costing you?  And with more and more students continuing their education at graduate school and beyond, the potential cost can become daunting.  At times, it may even deter a student from pursuing a degree.  

This month The College Prep Camp will help you start to navigate these turbulent waters by looking at FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).  

FAFSA is the place to start calculating how much college is going to cost so you can realistically start to plan for your degree.  First you want to check on the deadline for your state.  At the time I am writing this, October 12, 2016, the deadline for California for state financial aid programs is Marh 2, 2017 for the 2017-2018 school year.  The deadline for federal financial aid is June 30, 2018.  

The best place to start to wrap you head around the cost of a four year degree is by using the FAFSA College Scorecard.  

For example I searched for a Four Year English degrees in California and here you can see a sample of three schools.  

UC Davis has a much larger undergraduate population than Azusa or Occidental but costs nearly half as much per year.  On average a UC Davis English degree will cost about $62,000 with an average annual salary of $56,400.  An English degree will cost nearly $120,000 at the other two schools with a comparable annual salary but smaller class size may be worth the cost to you.  

Clicking on “View More Details” will show you a breakdown of costs, average SAT and ACT scores for incoming freshmen, the demographics of the student body, and much more.  

Once you’ve really looked at your financial obligations, it’s time to see just how much aid you can receive.  Interest rates do apply but at an average of 3.6% for undergraduate degrees, the rates are low enough that you can at least start to estimate how much that degree will cost you over the next ten years.  

It’s far too easy to ignore the cost of higher education but with all of the other steps you have taken getting prepared for college, it is best to be realistic and start making a plan now so that you have access to all that FAFSA has to offer you.