The cost of an institution, as well as the financial aid that is provided, is obviously an important factor in every student’s college decision. After all, no one wants to go into insurmountable debt to pay for a college degree. At the same time, shouldn’t your college decision be based on factors other than money? It is important to examine your college options from all angles to make sure it is the right fit for you, financial aid included. Only you can determine how big of a role tuition costs and financial aid will play in your ultimate decision.
Most students initially become interested in a college based on what that school has to offer. It is typically later that the student realizes a school is not affordable. Looking into the availability of financial aid is an important part of a thorough college investigation. While many colleges offer financial aid to students, such as merit-based tuition reductions, there are plenty of institutions that offer limited or no aid.
The first question you should ask yourself is whether or not the college you are interested in is financially feasible. Taking all forms of financial assistance into consideration, can you afford the cost of tuition? Of course, you should include reasonable student loans into this equation. But if a college is financially out of your reach, it doesn’t matter how great of a choice that school is. If it is not right for your budget, it’s not the school for you.
Another question to ask yourself is if a college is worth the money you would have to put out. Be realistic when it comes to what the school has to offer you. It may be an excellent institution with a great reputation, but if it does not offer adequate financial aid, are you comfortable with paying full price for tuition? Even if you afford college tuition, that doesn’t mean the high costs are worth it to you.
Always look into whether or not you can find a similar option for less. There will always be less costly college options, such as earning an online degree or attending a publicly funded university. You may also find that a college that has similar features and benefits to the school you prefer is willing to offer you a better package.
It is important to consider whether there are ways to cut costs. For example, you may wish to attend a local college that is just perfect for you, but it is expensive even with the help of financial aid. Perhaps you could commute to college, saving the cost of boarding at school. Another option would be to start out in community college and transfer your credits.
Finally, be aware that in some situations, financial aid is negotiable! Inform your first-choice college if you have received a better financial aid package from another college. Some schools are willing to match better offers for the right candidate.