financial aid

cost of college
You did it. You received that highly anticipated bigger rather than smaller envelope in the mail stating you have been accepted into a college. You’re ecstatic. Then another piece of mail comes and it’s your tuition bill. That’s when it hits you. College is expensive, but just how expensive is it and what will you need to fork over for your first semester?

Tuition
Your first order of business should be calculating your tuition costs, which vary greatly from state to state and are a huge factor in determining how much student loans you may need. According to the College Board’s 2012-2013 Trends in College Pricing survey, the average cost for tuition and fees for in-state students at public four-year institutions was $4,327 a semester, while the average at private nonprofit four-year institutions was $14,528 a semester.

Room and Board
The average cost for on-campus living for undergraduate students attending public four-year institutions is $4,602 a semester, and $5, 231 a semester if you attend a private nonprofit four-year school. If you live off campus without roommates, your living expenses can double.

Books
Renting textbooks is becoming increasingly popular among college students. Your total book costs depend on your major and other factors, but on average, if you rent your books, you could spend $300 a semester, which is significantly less than if you were to buy your textbooks.

And when you rent your textbooks from eCampus.com, you may save even more money. Not only can you spend less on your books, but you can receive cash back when you sell your books to eCampus.com, so other students just like you can buy them at a lower price. It’s fast, easy and saves you money!

Transportation
Depending on whether you own a car, use public transportation, live on- or off-campus and how far you travel, your average semester cost for transportation is about $700 and parking may cost $70 a semester.

Social Life and Miscellaneous Expenses
Depending on how much you spend on eating out, you could spend  $1,000 a semester just to keep your social life intact.

Financial Aid
After you calculate all your expenses, consider how much financial aid you might receive. According to College Board, in 2012-2013, undergraduate students attending public four-year institutions received an average of $2,875 a semester in grants and federal aid, while students attending private nonprofit four-year institutions received $7,840 a semester.

Estimated Cost for Your First Semester of College (with financial aid):

  • $8,124 for public four-year institutions
  • $13,989 for private nonprofit four-year institutions

Estimated Cost for Your First Semester of College (without financial aid):

  • $10,999 for public four-year institutions
  • $21,829 for private nonprofit four-year institutions

Keep in mind, there are many factors that determine your actual cost of attendance. For a more exact cost, you may want to contact your college’s financial aid department.

Kaitlyn Fusco is a content writer for Debt.org. She combines her interests in writing and overcoming debt to inform the public about issues related to credit, debt and personal finance.

Paying for school is just flat out tough. Decisions need to be made by not only you, but your parents or guardians as well. Most high school students do not have the kind of money needed to pay for college so there are a few other options.

Financial Aid

Filling out financial aid is extremely beneficial and an absolute must if you are given the opportunity. Financial aid is determined by household income and a bunch of other various categories. It is then determined how much you will receive. This will help you along with your family to pay for college.

Scholarships

Unlike financial aid in which there is a process to determine if you will receive any of it, scholarships are just flat out earned. It could either be straight out of high school in which you may have excelled in, or it may be in smaller forms maybe from an essay contest you applied to. There are various ways to receive scholarships either coming out of high school or even when you are in college. Maintain a certain GPA, earn an athletic scholarship. This will certainly help you pay for college, but you must earn it first.

Loans

Loans are a tough thing to go about. The reason I say this is because paying off student loans for the rest of your life and during your career is just an absolute challenge and it can last all of your life. But of course loans are usually needed when it comes to college, and just because you have to repay these, it is definitely the way to go for most families.

Parents/Guardians

Having your parents and or guardians help you pay for college is another option but again a tough decision. The first thing you need is the permission from your family, or just to know that they will be helping you pay off your college payments.

Work

Working a full 9-5 job during college is nearly impossible but some people do actually manage to pull it off. It is truly and honestly tough to even have a part time job during school but it is an absolute necessity. Sure you won’t be able to pay off tuition and room and board with just a part time job, but having this part time job will keep your wallet a little more filled so you can survive throughout college!

There are many benefits of applying for scholarships and financial aid for school. First, and probably most important is the fact that college is expensive. Costs are on the rise and it is becoming more and more difficult to be able to finance schooling on your own. Scholarships can be a great way to shed some of the fee burden off of your higher education tab.

While I was researching this topic, I came across a few scholarships that I wish I had seen back in my final high school days. Looking back on it, with a little “googling” I could have potentially saved hundreds, even thousands, of dollars with creative scholarships.

Just a few years ago, scholarships were awarded primarily for academics, test scores and athletic ability. However, times have changed. You can now save the big bucks based on more than just your GPA and transcript—you are now encouraged to showcase your activities, hobbies and personality. There are scholarships out there just waiting to be awarded to those looking outside the beaten path! If something makes you unique, or you have a longtime hobby that is a little out of the ordinary, try searching for scholarships based around it. You will be surprised with what might pop up!

Don’t believe me? Let’s look at a few examples to kick that hamster wheel into gear.

There are scholarships awarded to students who have a bit of a “green thumb”. By paying close attention to the growing gains of going “Green”, students have the potential to win scholarships based on their initiative to get students involved. DoSomething.org will enter students into a drawing for a $500 scholarship just for referring their friends to their service programs and starting a club at their school. If you have the passion to give back to your community and it’s already apparent in your extracurricular activities—this scholarship could be perfect for you!

Now being a short girl, this next one wouldn’t quite apply to me, but it’s still fascinating and worth looking into! The Tall Clubs International Student Scholarship is awarded to students who are gifted in the height department. Students can win up to $1000 in scholarship money just for being “heads above the rest”!  For the ladies who are over 5”10, and the gentlemen who surpass 6”2, this one could be calling your name!

Avid fashion lovers and prom dress shoppers unite! This next scholarship stopped me dead in my tracks. In high school, prom was the event of the season. It didn’t matter who you were or what group you fit into—everyone went to prom. I spent weeks looking for the “perfect dress”. Ironically enough, I now look back at it and cringe. How in the world did I pick that?! I should have had fun and gotten creative. Maybe if I had seen this scholarship I would have! The Duck Brand Duct Tape Stuck on Prom Contest awards over $5000 each to a couple who makes amazing Duck Tape prom outfits!

These are just a few of the hundreds and hundreds of scholarships opportunities that exist in the depths of cyber space! Spend time searching for scholarships whether you’re in high school or already in college—there are scholarships made for anyone and everyone, you just have to find them! From surveys, to sprinkler safety, to vegetarian awareness, there are countless numbers of untapped scholarship resources just waiting to be uncovered! Scholarships help you save money during school and make it more affordable in the long run!

-Ring Queen