Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Advanced search  

News:

Season 13!

Author Topic: Notes on conferences - How to pay for college  (Read 7774 times)

Valkyrie

  • Team Member
  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 649
Notes on conferences - How to pay for college
« on: April 22, 2008, 09:48:37 AM »

This seminar was presented by Murray Miller, president of College Planning Strategies (www.ourcollegeplan.com).  He presented a general overview of planning for college finances, not just FIRST scholarships.  Some of the main points that I jotted down:

Most scholarships are partial, not full.  Don't count on a "free ride."

Don't rely on your high school guidance counselor to help maximize your financial aid - that's not their job.  They can help you with college selection and with your high school course choices, but in general they aren't experts in maximizing your financial aid.

Consider work/study aid - over 80% of work/study students actually get BETTER grades than those who are strictly "students."

Colleges have funds that are on a first-come, first-served basis.  Send in your forms at the very beginning of the application period - January 1st of your senior year!!  (Usually they can be done online.)

Talk to the Admissions department of the college - they may waive your application fee.  It doesn't hurt to ask!

Apply to six colleges: two "safety" schools, two "ballpark" schools, and two "stretch" schools.

If you are getting financial aid from a private source (not directly from the college), see if the organization will make out the check to you (the student) instead of to the college.  Strange as it sounds, if the check is made out to the college, the college may reduce the amount of financial aid that they provide to you!

For FIRST scholarships, you can go to www.usfirst.org/scholarshipsearch.aspx and see all the scholarships listed.  You can sort by Date Posted to find new ones (the page is updated frequently, so keep checking).

If you are awarded a scholarship that is renewable for all four years of college, request the award IN WRITING for ALL FOUR YEARS.  That way you'll have proof of the scholarship and there won't be any question in future years.

The two main forms that need to be filled out are the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE (many colleges want this in addition to the FAFSA).  They're about as much fun as filling out tax forms, and as important to fill out correctly as tax forms!  BE CONSISTENT with the numbers - if you fill in an amount on the FAFSA, be sure to put the same amount on the CSS, or your application may be delayed by several weeks.  Since funding can be first-come, first-served, you don't want any delays!!  If you're submitting forms online, be sure to PRINT them before you submit them, so you have a record of all the information you provided.

If you or your parents own a business, you may have another form to fill out regarding the business finances.

Check whether colleges are giving "gift aid" (free money) or "self-help aid" (work/study or loans).  Obviously, gift aid is what you'd like to maximize.

You MAY be able to negotiate or appeal an aid package, but be sure you have a good reason to appeal.

Start planning in the fall of your junior year - don't wait until senior year!

Just like with taxes, there may be perfectly legal ways to restructure your family's finances to your benefit.  An example: a family applied to a college that did not look at a family's primary residence value when figuring the family's assets - but DID look at the value of any additional properties.  The family had a home and a cottage.  They took a chunk of the equity out of the cottage and used it to pay down their home's mortgage - all this did was move some of their debt from one place to another, so it didn't affect their actual finances.  But from the college's point of view, suddenly that cottage was worth much less than it had been, so the family could qualify for a lot more aid.  Be sure you understand how the college you're applying to calculates their aid package!

Check www.ourcollegeplan.com for more info.
Logged

Leann

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 508
    • Email
Re: Notes on conferences - How to pay for college
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2008, 12:37:13 PM »

"Talk to the Admissions department of the college - they may waive your application fee.  It doesn't hurt to ask!"

I have something to add to that. For undergrad, I did just that. I actually found out my SCHOOL had application waivers. I know some schools have a limit on how many waivers each student can receive. But I got it from my guidance counselor after asking and I saved a few hundred dollars.

For grad school, most schools gave a discounted application fee if you completed your application ONLINE, and not through the mail. (You'll also save on postage, large envelopes, etc.)

In addition, a MAJOR bonus is to do work-study for the admissions dept. at the school. That way, you can learn a lot about financial aid, other scholarships, etc. It's mostly office work, but work-study is usually only a few hours a week.

It wasn't too long ago I went through this process (2 years) and I definitely understand a lot of the ins and outs of applying, etc. So feel free to ask me about anything! If I don't know the answer, I can probably find it for you somewhere else.
Logged

HyprAkktiv

  • Team Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 347
  • "It's okay to stumble, So go forward." -Gazette
    • Email
Re: Notes on conferences - How to pay for college
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2008, 01:47:49 PM »

Ah... I have a question...?

What exactly is work study? I've heard from Frau Mac (German teacher) that it can go to your room/board or it can go straight to you... ? _ ?

And I checked out the RIT and Clarkson websites and can't find anything on it...
Logged

Teach me and I forget, Show me and I remember, Let me do it and I understand.
Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.

Kims Robot

  • Let's Go Thunder!
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2497
  • Do or Do Not, there is no Try!
    • kimsrobot
    • Email
Re: Notes on conferences - How to pay for college
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2008, 04:32:10 PM »

I know Clarkson has a Work Study program, and Im guessing RIT does as well...

Work Study is basically just a program where you can get an on campus type job.  I think there are a few different versions, as some you have to qualify as needing financial Aid (I didnt), some you could just get as an on campus job (thats what I had).

Just a quick search (using "Clarkson Work-Study") got me to their international student info:
Quote
Campus Jobs
There are limited work-study positions available for international students on campus. We cannot guarantee that you will be able to secure on-campus employment. Priority is given to U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents who are work-study eligible under federal guidelines. While there are some areas on campus that hire international students, our food service provider, ARAMARK, seems to be the best area to seek employment. The average student will work about 8-10 hours per week. The pay is minimum wage ($7.00 per hour). Work-study earnings should be viewed as spending money and not as a source for greatly defraying the cost of attendance. Under the terms of the F-1 student visa, international students cannot work more than 20 hours per week on campus.

There is also a listing of On Campus Employment under their financial aid.

I had 3 campus type jobs while I was there:
Delivering Newspapers - Eric & I knew the Editor of the newspaper (his roommate) and they needed someone with a car to deliver papers around campus.  Each of us made $25/week for about an hour's worth of work :)  You might need to "know" someone to get in.
Physics Tutoring - I was a drop in tutor for physics, basically ran an hour session once a week for students who needed help with homework or studying.  Generally you wouldnt be able to do this until after your freshman year.
Exam Proctor - This was by far the easiest.  My senior year, I signed up to proctor exams, which basically means for students that needed extended time or had circumstances where they needed to take an exam on an alternate day, Clarkson had an office where the teachers could bring the exams, and I was just responsible for timing them and making sure they werent talking/cheating.  99% of the time I would just sit there and do my homework while they did the tests :)

Logged
~kim~
Systems Engineer - Draper Laboratory

Steve Jobs: The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

HyprAkktiv

  • Team Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 347
  • "It's okay to stumble, So go forward." -Gazette
    • Email
Re: Notes on conferences - How to pay for college
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2008, 06:30:42 PM »

oxO...
teeheehee... I might actually have time for a job when I'm not at robotics...! Exciting. XD

But it sounds cool... Do you just sign up at an office on-site? *sorry i'm so informed....*
Logged

Teach me and I forget, Show me and I remember, Let me do it and I understand.
Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.

Valkyrie

  • Team Member
  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 649
Re: Notes on conferences - How to pay for college
« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2008, 07:10:07 AM »

The Admissions department at a college should be able to direct you to the right people to talk to.  Sometimes work-study is offered as part of the financial aid package, i.e., "we think you'll be able to cover your costs if you include working at the pancake house as a short-order cook 15 hours a week."  (Ask Mr. Drake why he makes such good breakfasts now, LOL  ;D)
Logged

Josh Goodman

  • Team Member
  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1331
  • As time expires.
    • Facebook - Josh Goodman
    • Email
Re: Notes on conferences - How to pay for college
« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2008, 09:23:35 AM »

GAH. I don't trust work study.  :(

Hopefully the college work study has a better careers person.
Logged
Josh Goodman
Rolling Thunder '09
Part-Time Mentor
« e-mail redacted »

Leann

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 508
    • Email
Re: Notes on conferences - How to pay for college
« Reply #7 on: October 24, 2008, 03:34:19 PM »

I don't get why you don't trust work-study. It's a program developed to put some extra cash in your pocket to help with other expenses that financial aid generally doesn't cover. (i.e. Prescription co-pays, personal items, even textbooks) - BTW, on the textbooks: NEVER buy from the school bookstore unless you have to. There are a MILLION websites that offer textbooks at MUCh cheaper prices (and they're not always used). Half.com always did me wonders. If you can't find out what your textbooks are going to be before the semester starts, it's usually not a big deal as you can wait to get them after the first class.

Also, with work-study, you can usually set how many hours you want/can do. I was able to set my hours on a weekly basis and also let my supervisor know when I just couldn't do it that day/week because I had too much to do. They usually never schedule you to work during holidays (school-scheduled time off) and exams.

It's usually best to find easy jobs where you aren't exhausting yourself because you're already constantly exhausted and where you can do your homework. Like proctering exams (like Kim) or I did tutoring where I would just wait for students to drop by and when there were no students, I would just do homework. I still got paid for the hours I was waiting for students, so I was essentially getting paid to do HW. Score!

Everyone understands you're a student first and foremost with work-study, so that is first priority over your job. (I actually had 3 during school)
Logged

HyprAkktiv

  • Team Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 347
  • "It's okay to stumble, So go forward." -Gazette
    • Email
Re: Notes on conferences - How to pay for college
« Reply #8 on: October 25, 2008, 02:07:49 PM »

Work study sounds pretty nifty, I have to admit. ^^''

But I'm kind of debating on where to apply to. I mean, I've had MCC/RIT 2+2 in my head for ages, but my counselor just told me that I have a good chance of getting into RIT and even Clarkson with a handful of scholarships to each. The thing is that I have no money to spend on things like big colleges... ; _ ;
Logged

Teach me and I forget, Show me and I remember, Let me do it and I understand.
Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.

Valkyrie

  • Team Member
  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 649
Re: Notes on conferences - How to pay for college
« Reply #9 on: October 25, 2008, 05:05:04 PM »

Never assume that a "big" college will actually cost you more than a "small" college, just because the sticker price of the tuition is higher!  A big college may have more resources and ways to get you funding than a small college does.  Think about it - if a big college has a $30,000 tution but can give you a financial aid package (scholarships, grants, work-study, etc.) worth $25,000, that costs you $5,000.  A small college may have a $15,000 tuition but only $5,000 in financial aid available, so it would cost you $10,000.  Which would you rather pay?   :)

(Yeah, I'm just picking nice round numbers for this example so the math is easy.  :P)
Logged

Leann

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 508
    • Email
Re: Notes on conferences - How to pay for college
« Reply #10 on: October 27, 2008, 09:00:53 AM »

In addition to the Big college vs. Small college...I was always told by professors and counselors that sometimes you want to go to a big name school because more employers recognize the Big name schools and their reputation (as long as it's good). So if they're looking at identical applications, except for the colleges the applicants went to, they're probably going to pick the person with the name they recognize. It really is a world of who you know and names you recognize.

But the 2+2 program with MCC/RIT works well because you still get an RIT degree. However, I would definitely heed Mrs. Drake's advice and look into whether the 2+2 program will really save you more money in the end.

No one has the money to pay for college. That's why there's loans and scholarships. Yeah, it stinks to have a bunch of loans to pay off later, but the idea is you have a better paying job to pay off those loans. And college is just a great life experience you won't get anywhere else, so I think it was totally worth the money!
Logged

Kims Robot

  • Let's Go Thunder!
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2497
  • Do or Do Not, there is no Try!
    • kimsrobot
    • Email
Re: Notes on conferences - How to pay for college
« Reply #11 on: October 27, 2008, 11:27:53 AM »

Don't worry about having the money... figure out where you want to go and then see how you can make it work.  As suggested several ways here, there are a lot of ways to pay for college... Number one on the list is SCHOLARSHIPS.  I guarantee as a girl going for engineering, you will easily get some scholarship right off the bat, and thats before your grades, before your FIRST experience.  Colleges are hurting to try to increase their diversity in the engineering and science areas, so you will likely have a leg up there.  On top of that, did you notice the 10 MILLION dollars in scholarships available to FIRST students only?  Unfortunately, I dont think the 2+2 programs will actually get you those scholarships... most places you have to come in as a freshman.  Plus there are other ways to get scholarships... grades, SAT scores, leadership ability, honors programs, etc.  Look at absolutely all of them.

Then once you have exhausted every scholarship... there are always loans.  I know very few engineers our age who arent still paying off school loans, but you know what?  Most of them have been able to afford to buy cars, houses and pay for weddings... all of which means their loans arent really impacting their lifestyle.  Federal loans are often low interest, and its actually smarter to just pay the minimum (for example, Eric had a 4% loan, but we had some investments that were making 10% a year... he could either pay off his loan faster, or make the extra 6%).  So dont worry about getting out of college debt free if the job you get afterward will more than make up for your loans.

In my opinion, its better to go to a big name school if you can get in.. they will always find a way to help you make it work if you are accepted!
Logged
~kim~
Systems Engineer - Draper Laboratory

Steve Jobs: The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

Leann

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 508
    • Email
Re: Notes on conferences - How to pay for college
« Reply #12 on: October 27, 2008, 04:00:01 PM »

For a real world example, I talked to Dartmouth and Harvard when I was in high school, just for the heck of it, and they were able to provide AMAZING scholarships to the point where I would only end up paying $5000/yr (when it was about $35,000/yr - now, it's more like $50,000).

Of course, I didn't get in and that's why I didn't go, but they were my reach schools (a big reach). I think it all worked out well in the end anyway. (I still ended up going to big name schools and getting an amazing education.)  :)

The point is to provide a real world example of what Mrs. Drake and Kim are talking about. Big name schools can usually help you out with the money. Why? Because they have so many people already attending and paying tuition, and they get lots of donated money from alumni and companies, so they can afford to give you a break. Smaller schools usually don't have that option. (Not trying to dissuade anybody from applying to smaller schools!! Just stating some known facts.)

I know the big concern is money. However, you can't let that be the deciding factor in this huge decision. Bottom line: Go to the school you want, that will be the best fit for you, that you've always wanted to go to or is in a town/state you've always wanted to live in, and of course, provides you with the best education possible (which is the point of college, right?). The rest (being the money) will work itself out. If you're miserable at a school, it doesn't matter how little you may be paying.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2008, 04:06:24 PM by leann »
Logged

Firefly

  • Team Member
  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 517
  • No matter where you go there you are
    • My company website - OS-Cubed, Inc.
Re: Notes on conferences - How to pay for college
« Reply #13 on: October 31, 2008, 11:10:24 PM »

In reference to Mrs. Drake's comment, I worked short order at a Pancake House on campus for all 4 years I was there, roughly 20 hours per week.  Think IHOP on campus.   I was "top of the line" student cook for the morning rushes on the weekends and several dinner nights per week by the end of the 4 years, supervising 2 other short order cooks for all the rushes.  I cook a mean breakfast now  :D.  I also worked Dish Machine Operator at a restaurant in my home town, and I worked for my parent's environmental firms doing thrilling things like sampling sewer water and surveying people about their septic systems. 

Sometime ask me about the giant pancake I made when the dropper broke at the Pancake House...  In any case working and going to school, especially at a very competitive and fast paced college like Cornell, is not for everyone.  There were times when I know I could have had a better grade in a course if I'd had more time.  There are tons of people competing for work/study positions so if you're irresponsible and don't cover your shifts they just fire you and hire someone else.  When I went to school - financially - it was the only way I had any money for ANYTHING besides tuition, room and board (including anything for breakfasts and some weekend meals which weren't easily included in our meal plan at the time).    My mom and dad were both teachers, and I had 3 brothers and sisters they put through college as well.  Money was short.  I ended up with only a couple thousand in debt by the end of the four years - which was pretty amazing even for the cheap prices back then. I paid for all my own books, clothes, miscellaneous expenses, summer rent, etc. by working my way through college.  I worked every summer as well.

Working a crap job (and you might have to take one) can significantly reduce your debt and/or increase your spending money at college - regardless of your parents or your own $$.  It is not for everyone though and you'll definitely be spending more time working and doing homework than you will having fun.  On the other hand I do recall having at least SOME fun :)  If you can try to get a job you can work mornings on the weekend or evenings during the week so you don't have to fit it around classes and precious "friday and saturday downtime".  Even if you work a job you'll be coming out of college with some student loan debt (it's actually a good idea, as the interest rate on that debt is below nearly any other debt rate you can get and when you're fresh out of college low interest loan payments are way better than your car payment, mortgage payment or any other kind of debt).

Be aware that today's rules are pretty tight regarding student loans and youth convictions.  If you get in trouble with the law (especially regarding things like drugs, drunk driving, etc.) you are risking your ability to get student loans before college, and if you get in trouble with the law while IN college they can immediately call the loan and not loan you any more money.  They government basically decided if they were footing some of the bill - you have to be more responsible.   Not that anyone plans to get in trouble but if you're planning to go to college - think about 20 times before doing something stupid.

Cheers,
Lee
Logged
Lee Drake, CEO, OS-Cubed, Inc.

Valkyrie

  • Team Member
  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 649
Re: Notes on conferences - How to pay for college
« Reply #14 on: November 01, 2008, 10:05:02 PM »

On the other hand I do recall having at least SOME fun :)

Haha yeah...I think that had at least as much to do with your grades as your job did.  :P

So keep your fun in moderation while you're at college (but be sure to have some!).   ;D
Logged