So you found yourself at yet another college tour. But what next? Sure, the campus looks beautiful, and the people seem friendly, but lingering in the back of your mind is that one question—how much money am I going to have to shell out for this? Here are 7 simple questions to help you get the answers you need.
What merit-based scholarships do you offer, and on what level?
Merit-based scholarships can be a godsend if you’re willing to put in the work to earn good grades, and the majority of colleges have some or several based on GPA. Be sure to ask if there are several levels of merit-based scholarships—sometimes if your GPA drops beyond a certain point, your scholarship money either is decreased by a substantial amount or goes away completely.
Is their school part of the WUE system?
If you live in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawai’i, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, or Wyoming (the WICHE states), you could qualify for in-state tuition at certain WUE (Western Undergraduate Exchange) schools. The full list of WUE schools can be found here. Be sure to apply fast, though, as limited spots are available and it can reduce your tuition by an average of $11,000.
What dining plans do they offer and are they optional?
Some schools, such as Tufts University, require that every freshman buy their most expensive, full-coverage dining plan. This costs the students up to $1,000 dollars extra than if they bought a cheaper meal plan or chose to make their own cheap meals.
How much do the dorms cost and are they optional? Dorms can be expensive. A review of several sources culminates in an estimate that dorm prices can range anywhere from $8,000-$10,000 per year. For a lot of students, that’s just too much, and an apartment or living with friends or family is a better option. But if the college requires dorm living, that option disappears.
Does the school have a loan cap?
The vast majority of college students take out loans. But with little assistance, the amount of loans taken out soon grows to a monumental pile of debt. Loan caps provide a solution to that. Some schools promise their students that after a certain amount of loans taken out, the school will provide the rest of financial assistance needed in the form of non-repayable grants and scholarships.
Do they meet 100% of financial need?
Nearly all colleges offer to meet at least part of financial need, but if the college you’re touring offers 100%, that means they will meet ALL of your demonstrated financial need—it doesn’t matter if it’s $100 or $80,000.
Are there any opportunities for work-study?
Work-study is yet another form of government-provided financial aid, but for this one, the college provides you an opportunity to work as a librarian, barista, or tour guide. A portion of your wages—up to 75%—automatically goes to paying off your tuition and can be a beneficial experience for resume building.
So there you have it! Seven simple ways to reduce the cost of tuition, the stress, and the strain on your finances so that you can go to your perfect college.