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Choosing A College: Are You Asking The Right Questions?

More often than not, students focus on getting into that one dream school throughout their whole lives simply because of the prestige, the beautiful campus, or the world-renowned professors. However, there is one important factor frequently overlooked that can drastically change a family's dynamic either for better or for worse - money.

Even though many families discuss finances with their children, others simply avoid or delay the discussion due to embarrassment or the difficulty associated with it. However, asking the right money questions before applying to or selecting a college can help alleviate many future money problems. If you're feeling overwhelmed, a Money Mentor can help you figure out your answers to these questions!

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What Can This College Actually Offer Me For My Future?

Rather than basing a college decision off of the campus surroundings or the fun parties it offers, think carefully about if going to a particular college can help you achieve your academic goals and will be an cost-effective investment for your future after graduation. Acquiring a quality education does not necessarily mean you have to go to an expensive college. By saving money and going to a local community college, you're giving yourself more flexibility in the future.

How Much Can My Family Contribute To Tuition?

Take into account how much your family can contribute, and look for colleges with smaller tuitions so you can find one that your family can afford without having to take out loans. Going to college doesn't just affect you - it affects your entire family. Instead of insisting on going to that elite, private school, ponder for a minute if attending that school is worth putting a dent in your family's financial stability.

How Much Financial Aid Should I Expect To Get?

Financial aid varies from school to school, and it also depends on your family's total income. It's difficult to get a definite estimate, but make sure to fill out the FAFSA! You can also apply for scholarships and grants, and your Money Mentor can help you find the best ones for you!

Will I Have To Work During College To Pay Off College?

Many colleges offer work-study jobs as part of financial aid so you can contribute towards tuition and ease the financial burden on your parents. Just be sure to save enough time for studying so your grades don't drop!

How Much Debt Should I Be Expected To Take?

Having some student debt during college is quite common and definitely nothing to be ashamed of! After you get your degree, you'll be able to get a secure job and pay it off. However, you don't want to take out too much, or you may have trouble paying it all back on time. Most financial aid counselors say that the amount of debt you take on over 4 years in college should not exceed your first year salary fresh out of school. Try to borrow as little as possible.

Are Student Loans Dangerous?

Not necessarily, but you and your family must first decide who will be responsible for paying back your student loans. This way, you can plan ahead and subtract any future payments from your estimated potential income. If you're struggling to determine whether you should take out loans, contact a Money Mentor for one-on-one help!

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