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s/o Cautionary Tale/high college costs -- a brainstorm $$ ideas thread!

college funding ideas paying for college

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#1 Lori D.

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 12:52 PM

** UPDATED ** info with more ideas at the end of this thread

 

 

Okay, so none of us can afford college... What are some options? I've listed some below to get us started...

Our state schools used to be very low in tuition, but have jumped over 250% in rates across the board in just the past 12 years -- partly due to our state being among the worst hit by the housing bubble burst. Our state is broke and has no more money to fund education, so the universities have raised tuition drastically to cover those costs -- literally doubled tuition in just 4 years. So the new reality for us is $10,000/year (and continuing to go up every year) for in-state tuition. Did we save for our DSs college? Yes. Starting when each was born, we've saved out of every paycheck. Each DS has about $15,000 for college, which I thought that was pretty good, considering we are a one-income family with no debt (other than the mortgage), so I could be a SAHM and homeschooler, and DH has a very middle class job.

So, that means we have to be creative in figuring out how this college thing is going to work. I've been doing some research, and here are some options I'd like to share with you all, to help kick off some out-of-the-box thinking. Please use this thread to jump in and add more ideas so we can help one another out! :)

Remember, alternatives have advantages and disadvantages -- and as some people mentioned in that original cautionary tale thread, you have to be willing to let go of your expectations about the college experience, costs, and results. And when we ARE willing to let go of expectations... that can open up a whole lot of possibilities! So here's to making lemonade with the current college cost lemons! :cheers2: Warmest regards, Lori D.


- Live at home; use public transportation to commute
Most universities and community colleges have special semester bus passes. (Our DS has to travel 50 minutes one way by bus to the CC every day -- and it is 90 minutes when we don't drive him to the transfer bus stop 4 miles away. BONUS -- he gets a lot of reading and studying done on the bus! :) )


- Live with a family/older retired couple while at college
If going to an institution that is away from home, line up living with a family or an older retired couple and trade room & board for a few hours/week of child care, house cleaning, yard work, handi-work, pet care, etc. Find a reputable family through homeschooling contacts, church, campus ministries, etc.


- Use the money you saved for DC's college and buy a house
The housing market is still depressed in many areas and interest rates are low. Take a chunk of the money set aside for college, use it as a down payment on a house within a few miles of the university and near public transportation, and have your DC live there and be the landlord (does the house work, yard work, painting, minor repairs in exchange for their own rent). Then rent out the other bedrooms to other students at a rate that pays for the house payment and utilities. Resell at the end of college days and use the accrued equity to pay down college loans, or as a gift/loan to DC for a down payment on a house near the DC's work.


- Go to Community College for 2 years, and Transfer
Cuts down two years of university costs.


- Delay College: Get a 2-year degree; Work/Save; and then Go to College
Depending on what you get the degree in, a student can earn $30,000-45,000 a year with some 2-year Associate's Degrees. So a student could spend 2 years getting the degree, then work 2 years, living at home, and come out after 4 years with (after taxes) $50,000 to $75,000 for college.


- Go to a Tuition-Free College
Be willing to not go to your first-choice college and get a degree from a full-scholarship institution.


- Go to College Abroad for much less, maybe even free!
Not only does it reduce tuition, but think about the incredible additional culture and life experiences you get! Pay for some of the costs of getting there and living there by working as an au pair, teaching English, temp work, etc. See some of the Gap Year websites for great ideas and links on jobs, travel, etc.


- Work on Campus while a student: Work Study
Check out the work study program at the school.


- Work on Campus while a student: Tutoring
Once you've taken some entry-level courses, earned As or Bs, you can apply to be a tutor at the university or CC's tutor program, often getting paid to just be available during the tutoring hours -- and getting to study your own work when no one needs your services. This is especially great if you come into a university or CC already having credits in Foreign Language, Writing 101/102, or entry-level sciences -- you can apply to be a tutor as a Freshman!


- Work full-time on Campus: get reduced tuition rates
My neighbor just got a full-time bookkeeping job in one of the departments at the local public university; now she is working towards finishing her 4-year degree one class per semester at a big discount on tuition, and her high-school aged DC will get that same break when they are ready for college.


- Americorps
Delay entry into college and volunteer with Americorps -- sometimes referred to as the "domestic Peace Corps". Americorps provides you with approximately $200/week for your room and board during your service, and you provide the full-time volunteer labor for 10 months. At the end of that time, Americorps provides you with a Segal Americorps Educational Award of $5500 to be used on college tuition.


Edited by Lori D., 24 September 2017 - 07:02 PM.

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#2 Jane in NC

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 01:47 PM

Bumping Lori's post. She has good ideas!

#3 Lori D.

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 02:24 PM

- Dual Enrollment -- college credit while still in high school
Some states actually pay the high school student's tuition to take classes at the local community college; even if your state doesn't (ours doesn't), it is still cheaper to pay for some of those classes that count for both high school AND college credit. Some students can even finish most or even all of a 2-year CC degree at the time of high school graduation -- fewer years needed to then get the 4-year degree!


- Distance Learning -- college degree at home for much less
This option is greatly increasing in popularity for universities to expand their student population base, and so credits earned by coursework done only online (no in-class time) is becoming increasingly accepted everywhere. You can even earn certain kinds of 4-year degrees entirely through distance learning. For example, a friend earned her 4-year Bachelor's in math/science through College Plus -- while finishing the last 2 years of high school. It cost $12,000-$15,000 total, compared to the $40,000 it would have cost her for tuition at our local public university. Be very careful to go with a nationally-known and accredited program -- otherwise you could end up paying for a useless degree from a "diploma mill".


- Part Time Home Business -- use the profits for saving for college
Figure out some sort of very part-time "cottage industry" the whole family can do 5-10 hours a week. Make a product, or offer a service. One family I know runs a part-time home printing business -- print whatever you want on t-shirts, mugs, pens, etc. Another family does yard-sale-ing. What about lining up several customers in the same neighborhood and do a pool-cleaning service, a dog litter cleaning service and dog walking service, lawn mowing service, housecleaning...


- Compare Public and Private College Costs and Award Packages
Quite often the awards packages from private colleges are much greater than those of the public colleges, making them a cheaper deal!


- Exchange Labor for Tuition
One of the local hospitals in our city has an exchange program -- you guarantee working for them for so many hours/week and for so many months, and they help with tuition. Because they know you are working toward a medical degree and are also doing school, they also are very flexible about scheduling hours.


- Negociate with the University, and Other Offbeat Financing Ideas
Here and here are interesting articles with some different approaches to financing college.


- Wealthy Patron
(Yes, I know, dream on... But maybe someone out there really would like to help!) Ask if a well-to-do relative or friend or mentor to "sponsor" one of your young children who has a real drive and career goal by annually contributing to a scholarship fund for that child. Have the child regularly write to their sponsor.


- GI Bill transfer
Some military benefits include paying for college for the service man/woman upon discharge; sometimes that benefit can be transferred to one or more children if the parent decides to not use it for himself/herself.

Edited by Lori D., 18 April 2012 - 05:13 PM.


#4 Lori D.

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 02:24 PM

SCHOLARSHIPS

1. Grades

- work hard and earn a GPA of 3.5 or better
- do some honors and/or AP (Advanced Placement) coursework
- score well on the PSAT, SAT, and ACT tests

2. Community Service
Some scholarships are linked to specific organizations -- and volunteering at those organizations can make you eligible for a scholarship! In general, volunteering is a good idea, because many scholarships are based on a lot of volunteer/community service hours to a variety of places. Hours spent in ministry or church work count, but for national scholarships, also make sure you include service to well-known non-religious groups, such as the local library, animal shelter, nursing home, etc.

3. Extracurricular Activities
Do a variety of outside-the-home extracurriculars that show leadership, team work, creativity, and/or responsibility -- the more "well-rounded" you are, or the more you have developed special interests, the more likelihood you have of both a favorable response from the scholarship-granting committee AND of number of places you can apply for scholarships. Again, some of those specific groups you do extracurriculars with ALSO award scholarships!

4. Research
- Look the resources that the institution you'll be attending, first -- most universities and CCs have a web page or even links to a separate website for applying for/searching for scholarships that are JUST for that institution!
- Search for community scholarships offered in your town/city. Local businesses often offer small awards for essays; check the local Civics groups, Elks Club and other similar local groups. Does one of the parents' place of work offer scholarships to the children of employees?
- Then broaden to search for regional or national or regional scholarships.

Types of things to look for (in individual, specific google searches (such as "scholarships for ______________"):
- homeschooler
- ethnic/minority background (must be a minimum of one-quarter [grandparent])
- you or a parent have a disability
- you or a parent are a member of a specific church or religious organization
- you or a parent are a member of a specific national organization
- you are the child of a military serviceman or veteran
- your parent is a member of a specific union or holds a specific type of job
- you are a member of a specific group
- cadet program (ex: Civil Air Patrol = http://www.gocivilai...cap_home/teens/ )
- church group (ex: Awana = http://homeschoolsch...a-scholarships/)
- national organization (ex: Boy Scouts of America =
http://www.scouting....holarships.aspx)
(Unknown Eagle School scholarships: http://unclaimedscholarships.us/?p=834)
- use a specific curriculum (ex: Sonlight = http://www.sonlight....holarships.html)

5. Go for small awards, too -- they add up
Think of scholarship searching and preparation as though it were your job -- as if you were earning the scholarship money with the time you put in to meet the requirements. Far fewer people are willing to invest the time to earn a scholarship of $100-500 -- but that is enough to buy books for a class or three. And, if you win enough small scholarships (often, you are able to just re-work essays rather than having to write a new one for each contest), you might be able to earn enough to not have to work while going to classes!

6. Be willing to put in work for a scholarship — most other people don't!
It is worthwhile to put in several hours of work in writing an essay or doing a project to receive several hundred dollars for your effort because quite often those few hours of work deter everyone else from applying, and MANY scholarships go unawarded because no one was willing to put in a few hours of work to apply for them! Look for local scholarships of smaller amounts that anyone can earn by writing an essay, making a poster or short video, completing a project, or by having done community service/volunteer hours.

7. Focus
Spend MORE of your time looking for contests, grants and scholarship monies for the specific college or university you want to attend and from your local community. Fewer people apply for these scholarships than for the big national scholarships, so you have better odds at earning these.


BOOKS
Check for books at the library on applying for scholarships. Here are a few to start with:

- "College Admissions Handbook" by Cafi Cohen (chapter on finding college funding)
- "The Scholarship Bok 2002" by Laurie Blum
- "Free Money for College" by Laurie Blum


WEB RESOURCES
- College Scholarships = http://www.collegescholarships.org/
- Homeschool Scholarships = http://homeschoolscholarships.org/
- HSLDA scholarship info = http://www.hslda.org...sp#scholarships
- FastWeb Online Scholarship Search: list of scholarships = www.fastweb.com
- FinAid: The Smart Guide to Financial Aid = www.finaid.org


SCHOLARSHIP SEARCH LISTS

Homeschool Buyers Co-op: list of scholarships for homeschoolers
http://www.homeschoo...p-scholarships/

Homeschool.com website: list of contests and scholarships
http://www.homeschoo...ips/default.asp

Eclectic Homeschool Online: short list of homeschool scholarships
http://www.eclectich...p?articleid=199

College Scholarships.org website: short list and article on scholarships for homeschooled students
http://www.collegesc.../homeschool.htm

Scholarships 4 Students website: long list of scholarships for all students
http://scholarships4...ol_students.htm

Unclaimed Scholarships website: list of money, usually with unusual requirements
http://unclaimedscholarships.us/

Edited by Lori D., 18 April 2012 - 05:21 PM.

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#5 Ali in OR

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 02:33 PM

For strong students: try to graduate in 3 years by taking many AP classes in high school. My kids aren't in high school yet, but I believe there are other dual-credit ways to get some college work done in advance. You can also take a few more units per quarter or semester to try to get done early. I only took 1 AP (they weren't common yet in my rural high school 25+ years ago), but I was still able to graduate 1 quarter early--saved $5k.
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#6 Beth S

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 02:58 PM

Reading "Debt Free U" book here. Not a perfect book, but a good motivator to match your schooling with what you & child can actually afford.
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#7 Lori D.

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 05:40 PM

Thanks for the bump, Jane! :) I've added more ideas, but would love to hear some other out-of-the-box thinking! :)

#8 justamouse

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 05:56 PM

We actually know one of the kids in the ads for College Plus, he was a local. Took all kinds of CLEPS, and some long distance classes (like to Thomas Edison State) and got his BA for @ 10k. I believed he also worked to pay those off. Then he went to Ave Maria School of Law (Yep, they were a totally Catholic house) and he's now a lawyer in Manhattan.
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#9 Flux

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 09:11 PM

Forgive me if I misquote some specifics, as it's been awhile, but this is the gist anyway...
About 15 years ago I worked at a coffee shop at Tulane University and was shocked to find out from a few students that they went for free because they had a parent who worked there. The parent had to work there for X number of years (I don't remember, 5? I don't think it was as high as 10?), student still had to buy their own books, and they had to pay for any class if they got below a C. The parent didn't have to be a professor to qualify, either. It could be a secretary position or what not. There were people who worked there solely for this benefit. I don't know if this is widespread or not, but if you live near a decent school, maybe look into this?

Edited by Flux, 18 April 2012 - 09:19 PM.

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#10 Tibbie Dunbar

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 09:21 PM

:D Oh, good! Hope!

Thank you so much, Lori.

#11 JFSinIL

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 09:30 PM

Forgive me if I misquote some specifics, as it's been awhile, but this is the gist anyway...
About 15 years ago I worked at a coffee shop at Tulane University and was shocked to find out from a few students that they went for free because they had a parent who worked there. The parent had to work there for X number of years (I don't remember, 5? I don't think it was as high as 10?), student still had to buy their own books, and they had to pay for any class if they got below a C. The parent didn't have to be a professor to qualify, either. It could be a secretary position or what not. There were people who worked there solely for this benefit. I don't know if this is widespread or not, but if you live near a decent school, maybe look into this?


My mom worked as a secretary at a LAC in California - I went tuition free for three semesters, my kid brother went a few years and got his BS and MS there - then when she was close to retirement my mom got her BA.

One of my neighbors works at a local LAC and has one of her boys there tuition-free this year.
LAC's may do this more than public schools, I dunno.
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#12 Tibbie Dunbar

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 09:44 PM

MIT tuition-free for families making under $75,000 per year

What's the catch?

#13 Tibbie Dunbar

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 09:49 PM

Harvard: Same deal, no tuition for families making under $65k/yr.

Off to see what it takes to get accepted at MIT or Harvard...

#14 Lucy the Valiant

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 10:15 PM

Reading "Debt Free U" book here. Not a perfect book, but a good motivator to match your schooling with what you & child can actually afford.


Agreed - that's a good one! (not perfect, but - realistic, in many ways)

#15 _______

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 10:52 PM

nm


Edited by cathey, 03 December 2016 - 04:33 PM.


#16 cathmom

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 10:52 PM

- Work on Campus while a student: Tutoring
Once you've taken some entry-level courses, earned As or Bs, you can apply to be a tutor at the university or CC's tutor program, often getting paid to just be available during the tutoring hours -- and getting to study your own work when no one needs your services. This is especially great if you come into a university or CC already having credits in Foreign Language, Writing 101/102, or entry-level sciences -- you can apply to be a tutor as a Freshman!


I did this while a student; my son does this now...it gives you pocket money. At my son's school, you can work 20 hrs per week max only during the semester, and he gets paid just under $9 an hour. That's only $600 per semester.
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#17 Lori D.

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 11:39 PM

I did this while a student; my son does this now...it gives you pocket money. At my son's school, you can work 20 hrs per week max only during the semester, and he gets paid just under $9 an hour. That's only $600 per semester.




"ONLY $600 per semester" would have paid for all of older DS's books, online class key access code AND bus pass for this past semester at the CC! Add "pocket money" like that to partial scholarships, grants, etc., and it can begin to go a long way towards debt-free -- or at least low-debt -- higher education!

Not trying to knock your comment at all, Cathmom, because it is good to be realistic. But, I AM trying to shake myself (and anyone else who wants to be shaken :tongue_smilie:) out of this idea of expecting just ONE solution, ONE big full scholarship or financial aid package. That's NOT going to happen here for our family, so we need to treat financing college like a job, and hustle the nickels and dimes from many different places to add up as much as possible. :)

BEST of luck in your college financing adventures! :) Warmest regards, Lori D.

#18 orangearrow

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 11:53 PM

- Delay College: Get a 2-year degree; Work/Save; and then Go to College
Depending on what you get the degree in, a student can earn $30,000-45,000 a year with some 2-year Associate's Degrees. So a student could spend 2 years getting the degree, then work 2 years, living at home, and come out after 4 years with (after taxes) $50,000 to $75,000 for college.



Why isn't this done more often? Is it because of the possible loss of scholarship opportunities? But, if scholarships are this hard to come by, student loans are minimal, the parent is left carrying all of the student loan debt, and the student isn't in a mad rush to finish their degree... this seems incredibly logical and something to plan toward.

If the student applies (as a high schooler) to 4-year colleges, they find out what kind of scholarships/grants/loans they qualify for. I'm thinking if we are going to have to magically come up with $10-$20/yr... per college student... this option would have to be the logical solution.

That other thread has me feeling ill. :ack2:
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#19 regentrude

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 12:01 AM

MIT tuition-free for families making under $75,000 per year

What's the catch?


Getting in.
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#20 Sneezyone

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 12:33 AM

My mom's friend encouraged her kids to get a cosmetology/hairdressing license as part of their high school education, kind of like minoring in a vocation. Specialized hair care (braids, weaves, coloring and relaxers) is very lucrative as a side job, much better than work-study or other part-time service work, and could help a student build a sizeable nest-egg and spending money while at school. There's never a shortage of people needing these services in the dorms!
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#21 creekland

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 05:08 AM

I don't know whether I should post this here or not, but I will. I've done tons of research over the past 3-4 years when we lost most of our investments (over 6 digits) in the economic crash. That money was intended to pay for college, but now, it can't. Our income also fell to about half of what we used to earn. But, hubby and I insist our guys go to college. We're ok with their making the roughly $25,000 investment by taking on their own student loans (from the gov't). Beyond that, we couldn't take out loans for them if we wanted to (we won't qualify)... They looked for schools they liked where they were in the top 25% of students (but not so over the top as to be bored) and they competed for local scholarships. They also do work-study. Oldest is a sophomore and is perfectly happy at his small, Christian LAC. Middle is graduating homeschool this year and eagerly looking forward to going to the University of Rochester next year.

Oldest had good, but not super high, stats. Middle did have high stats. We're starting prep already with youngest (a high school sophomore).

In general, for anyone who has a student who has high stats might I suggest using the University of Alabama's Honors College as a safety school? They offer free rides (you pay NOTHING, not even room and board) if your student makes NMF. If they have high stats without making NMF (like my guy), then they offer free tuition. With slightly lesser stats, they have other merit aid.

We used them as a safety and middle son would have been happy to go there had they been his best financial option. However, in his case, both the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Rochester gave him equal finances. He's chosen the University of Rochester as he feels he fits in there the best. Considering URoc is ranked #35 (out of some 3000+ colleges), they're no slouch of a school. UA is ranked in the 70's - and generally moving up in the rankings with their awesome guaranteed (not competitive) merit aid.

There are other schools who offer really good aid for high stat kids - then there are schools that offer nothing. If finances matter, do research and choose carefully.

For those who are truly lower income (<50,000) there are schools who do decently with meeting need if your student can get in (don't need to be a NMF). You can't be anti-loan as most schools want the student to have some skin in the game, but the loans are generally just the basic federal types ($5500, $6500, $7500 per year) making the debt at graduation in the $20,000 range. If they choose their major carefully and do well in school, that's not too much of an investment IMO.

For need based aid, start with this list:

http://www.insidecol...nts/349/list.do

There are many on it. NOTE - you will still have to pay your EFC as determined by FAFSA or CSS (school's choice), but for low EFC folks, these are the schools to look for.

And here's another list that both of my kid's colleges are on:

http://www.insidecol...end/352/list.do

Do NOT set your heart on one school! Try a few (oldest did 3, middle did 6). Packages differ based upon how much the school wants your student for their incoming class (and that depends upon the competition applying). When looking for aid, find SOME you like and fit in with and see where the best finances come from, but don't bother trying schools not well-known for aid as your only source. Choose carefully.
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#22 cathmom

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 07:27 AM

"ONLY $600 per semester" would have paid for all of older DS's books, online class key access code AND bus pass for this past semester at the CC! Add "pocket money" like that to partial scholarships, grants, etc., and it can begin to go a long way towards debt-free -- or at least low-debt -- higher education!

Not trying to knock your comment at all, Cathmom, because it is good to be realistic. But, I AM trying to shake myself (and anyone else who wants to be shaken :tongue_smilie:) out of this idea of expecting just ONE solution, ONE big full scholarship or financial aid package. That's NOT going to happen here for our family, so we need to treat financing college like a job, and hustle the nickels and dimes from many different places to add up as much as possible. :)

BEST of luck in your college financing adventures! :) Warmest regards, Lori D.


I agree with how that sounded - $600 is a lot of money to me, believe me! However, when tuition, fees, and room and board at my son's college averages $35K a year, $1200 is a drop in the bucket.

#23 SailorMom

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 07:55 AM

Is there a way we can make this a "sticky" thread?
There are some great ideas I want to research, but don't have the time now.
I suppose I could just print the thread out :)

#24 Heigh Ho

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 08:02 AM

Pick a college where you can live off campus easily with roommates at less expense than the dorms and know how to cook.

Be an au pair while going to college. We have friends who hired a college student au pair from overseas each year for their children until age 16. People with preteen boys may prefer male au pairs.

Know how to network before you get to college; you want to land with your feet running and find out where to get your books cheaply.
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#25 Gwen in VA

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 08:24 AM

MIT tuition-free for families making under $75,000 per year

What's the catch?


The family can only have assets that are commensurate with that income. If the family assets are deemed "excessive," the deal/offer is off.

#26 Michelle in AL

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 08:34 AM

When investingating scholarships for my oldest, I ran across a STEM scholarship from the Govt. It covered all university costs, but you had to work for the govt in a STEM field once you graduated. You worked one yr for each yr they paid.

Am going out of state to register dd today, so don't have time to google the specifics, but wanted to post in case it would help someone else.

#27 Briartell

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 09:05 AM

Instead of spending $3000-$5000 a year for competion dance teams while your child is young, put that money into a savings account for college. I know people who have spent over $40,000 each on their children's activities. Comments are made about helping them earn scholarships which isn't sound investment advice.

The other is have the kid earn money for college. Two my friends had a deal with their parents where the students had to pay for their entire senior year. These two friends would work as many jobs as they could to save up. They both were successful in paying the large amount and developed a solid work ethic in the process. Kids can contribute.

Prepare the kids mentally for what to expect from you. I let my kids know how much we are willing to contribute early on. I think this helps them keep them from getting too attached to expensive schools in the first place.
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#28 Barbara H

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 09:13 AM

Prepare the kids mentally for what to expect from you. I let my kids know how much we are willing to contribute early on. I think this helps them keep them from getting too attached to expensive schools in the first place.


This is very wise. Bring kids in on the planning process early. Too many families feel bad so they bury their heads in the sand. Much better to be hon with your kids. Let them know what a difference prepping for tests can make. Teach them how to look at colleges with costs in mind. Avoid the fixation on the one dream school that may not be affordable or realistic.

Even for the rare lucky families who can afford to pay for everything -your kids need to understand education is a privilege and their job is to work hard.

#29 Barbara H

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 09:21 AM

We actually know one of the kids in the ads for College Plus, he was a local. Took all kinds of CLEPS, and some long distance classes (like to Thomas Edison State) and got his BA for @ 10k. I believed he also worked to pay those off. Then he went to Ave Maria School of Law (Yep, they were a totally Catholic house) and he's now a lawyer in Manhattan.


For students who are interested in this route, it can be done less expensively on your own. College Plus lists typical costs as $13,000-$16,000, and some of that is for fees to College Plus "coaching" and these fees are not covered by financial aid. For students with high financial need or high academic merit a traditional school may less expensive. For students who don't have those factors, they still have the option of self studying for CLEPs and completing an online degree through the same sorts of colleges College Plus uses.

One caution I would issue though, we really don't know as time goes on how available these programs will be. I wouldn't be surprised if eventually Thomas Edison (the school they use a lot) may end up with accreditation problems or students may end up needing to a larger percentage of real online classes instead of just CLEPs or DANTEs exams. It is unusual to have a school that allows students to rely so heavily on testing and that may not be sustainable over time. Also, students should know majors are very limited under these types of programs.
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#30 Barbara H

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 09:37 AM

This idea for the guys:
Look at some of the small liberal arts colleges where they are really struggling to have enough male students. They want balance and particularly when the balance looks like it'll slip below 30% they will really recruit guys. Some of these are former women's colleges. Particularly if you can play a sport, even just passably well, you may find yourself really wooed and rewarded with quite a nice merit scholarship.

For everybody:
Work Colleges Consortium: http://www.workcolleges.org/ Some of these have much more competitive admissions than the stats suggest so look at the odds carefully.

For everybody:
We hear a lot of negatives about colleges not taking APs or CLEPs, but the reality remains that majority of colleges do. It can be a pretty easy way for a lot of students to shave a year off college. This is particularly true for students looking at state universities. I've seen MANY students at our state flagship knock off a year of credits and meet many general education requirements pretty easily through AP or CLEP. That easily can add up to a year tuition saved (and more if they plan to live on campus). It also opens up the possibility that a student could complete a Master's during the same four year period.
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#31 Briartell

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 10:08 AM

Interesting article on yahoo today that relates to this. Read it with your kids.

Also at some point you need to be open with your kids about how much the bills are for the life they have now. They are convinced it is easy to pay off $100,000.

Edited by Briartell, 19 April 2012 - 10:50 AM.

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#32 J-rap

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 10:28 AM

I think this is a great thread, and I'd like to add a few things that we did that have been helpful.

Before I list them, I should probably state that my husband and I do not agree that the American belief in the "college experience" is so important and crucial. (I'm talking about the traditional "college experience" -- not the college education.) Personally, right from the get-go, we put down that view with our children. We are one of the few cultures in the world that has this view, and personally, I don't think it's very healthy. Most other countries in the world do not have dormitories, do not have big campuses that are mini worlds. The students simply take classes at the university (which is often based in several buildings spread out throughout the city), while continuing to live at home, with a relative, in a room rental, etc. It is simply one more step in their education.

Sure, I want my children to move on to independence, and I like the idea of them having late night intellectual discussions, but really, they don't need that in the twisted bubble of a college atmosphere; they can get it elsewhere.

I just thought I should explain that, so that you know where I'm coming from. I think when you raise your children with that attitude, they will grow up with a more flexible view on how to pursue their education.

So, in a nutshell (which is still rather long -- sorry!):

1) Raise your children with a flexible view on education. (Don't talk up the "college experience.")

2) Look into alternative housing. When our son did a year of college in NYC, the dorms offered by the school were outrageously expensive. He found a small room in a boarding house on the Upper East Side where he paid 1/4 as much as a dorm room. (And it included a meal/day.) When our daughter began college, she moved in with her grandmother, who lived 1 mile away from campus and who loved having the company of her granddaughter in the evenings.

3) Part-time jobs while in school are sometimes possible. Our son worked 20 hours/week in NYC while going to school full-time. It was a stretch for him; I think it would have been better if it were only half that much. But I think 10 hours/week is doable, and that at least pays for pocket money.

4) Build a relationship with a teacher once in college. Both our son and daughter who were in U.S. schools had a great relationship with at least one teacher. This relationship then led to the teacher bending over backwards to help them get jobs, internships, and additional scholarships.

5) Become fluent in a foreign language before college. I can't tell you how much this has helped us. Two of my daughters had a great love for a particular foreign language in high school, so we just went with it. They each took a gap year then, where they could further concentrate on that language (among other things). Their foreign language fluency resulted in several things: It enabled one of my daughters to enroll full-time in a university in Central America. It is considered one of the top universities in Central America, and it is U.S. accredited. Because she is fluent in Spanish she was able to move right into the regular classes (rather than the more expensive, international English-speaking classes). Her tuition is $5,000/year, tops. Another daughter, because she is fluent in French, was given a paid internship her first year, and awarded a language scholarship her second year, which paid HALF of her tuition that year. The presidential scholarship paid her other half.

6) Consider taking a gap year. All of my children took a gap year between high school and college, where they did interesting things. This gave them some world experience that looked good on college applications, gave them more to draw from once they WERE in college, and made them stand out more in their classes (which in turn, enabled them to build better relationships with teachers, which resulted in internships and more scholarships).

7) AP classes sometime help. For my daughter, they didn't seem to help as much. For my son, he studied for 6 AP tests in his senior year of high school, passed all of them, and was able to enter college as a sophomore.

8) College isn't for everyone. Depending on your career choice, college isn't always necessary. Our son felt his year in college was very good and helpful, but after that first year -- given his career choice -- he felt that "self-education" would be just as good, and better. I think homeschooling prepared him to be a self-starter and motivated learner, and he really took off once he became his own educator. He is much further along in his career than his fellow students who remained in school. (And with no student debt!)

9) Let your children really run with their interests, in high school. All of our children had at least one particular interest that was very strong. We gave them all the time they needed and tried to strengthen and refine that interest in every way we could. This gave them each a very unique, strong talent that got them attention in college and/or in starting a career without college.

10) Don't let the whole college process and idea rule you. We have always been very laid-back about our college approach. We didn't worry about being perfectly prepared and doing everything just right. We lived our lives in the best way we could up until that point, and somehow, it just seemed to prepare our children for college. I can't really explain how this helped. But somehow, feeling like WE are in control of our lives rather than the whole college process controlling our lives -- even taking back burner -- seemed to work out for us. I'm going to keep thinking about why that is...
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#33 Tibbie Dunbar

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 10:41 AM

These threads are so important! I agree, a sticky would be great.

We're looking very hard at MIT right now. Regentrude, I think my son would have a chance of being accepted, and Gwen, our assets wouldn't be a problem as we have none. LOL

DS would be interested in aerospace and astronautics at MIT (already headed that direction with Civil Air Patrol), and I know of local people in that field to ask my questions. The MIT admissions site mentioned EPGY courses and summer science camps, so I'll look into those, as well.

Of all the threads I've ever read here about college prep and planning, these two 'cautionary' threads have been the most helpful and important by far. Big thanks to all.

#34 LostSurprise

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 10:49 AM

*Stop thinking of college as a 4 year, full time proposition. Many people have worked and gone to college part time. A 6 or 8 year degree is still a degree, especially if you don't have to pay it back after that time.

*Consider learning a trade first and using that to pay for further education.

*Consider being a nanny or au pair. Many parents are willing to work around a schedule for a live-in nanny (which covers room and board). Dh's cousin just did this. She got a music degree, changed her mind, and went back for a nursing degree. She was already in debt so she became a nanny while she want back for a nursing degree.

*As a teen or young adult, look for entry level jobs which will pay you to get more education. Some companies like to grow their work force.

*Where you bank, where you go to church, local help organizations (rotary, elks, lions), clubs you belong to, aid societies, parents' work, parents' work organizations, ASK everyone if they know of scholarships. They may only be $300, but it adds up if you get several. Not everyone advertises.

*See if your school accepts transfers from your local CC before you enter. Take a night course at the CC each summer/during post terms while you're working full time for expenses. It shaves off a semester. Also, check to see if online courses from cheaper schools transfer.

*After you get your award, go to financial aid and tell them you really want to come but this won't work for you. I can't tell you the number of people this has worked for. If the school wants you they will stretch to get you in. Similarly, once you are in school if the money becomes overwhelming go to your adviser or main professors and ask for advice. Often you will get a job within the department or pointed to a resource you didn't know about.
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#35 Lori D.

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 11:13 AM

College Plus... some of that is for fees to College Plus "coaching" and these fees are not covered by financial aid.. For students who don't have those factors, they still have the option of self studying for CLEPs and completing an online degree through the same sorts of colleges College Plus uses.



True, BUT... I will also say that a friend who went this route said she would NOT have made it through getting her degree with College Plus without the coach. The coach was not just an administrator who told her which classes and CLEPS to take, and shuffled papers for her, but really was a life mentor who cheerled her when she was well into the program and didn't think she could make it.


One caution I would issue though, we really don't know as time goes on how available these programs will be... may end up with accreditation problems or students may end up needing to a larger percentage of real online classes instead of just CLEPs or DANTEs exams. It is unusual to have a school that allows students to rely so heavily on testing and that may not be sustainable over time. Also, students should know majors are very limited under these types of programs.



Good reminders! This option is not for everyone -- you MUST be a very self-motivated learner, because you do not have a physical classroom and instructor to "pull you along".

I, too wonder how accepted these all-online degrees will be -- by businesses, and by other colleges if/when the students go back for a Master's. However, I am seeing a HUGE surge upward across the board with ALL universities in offering more and more classes online in order for colleges to keep a large student body, and to try and gather in full-time working people who want to get a degree via one class at a time. So acceptability may not be an issue if everyone is moving in that direction...

#36 Mom-ninja.

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 11:35 AM

Thanks for this thread. It will help me sleep at night.

#37 Clear Creek

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 11:38 AM

There are two more ways of getting a free/almost free education here in the US - signing up for ROTC or joining the military and using the GI Bill after the enlistment period is finished. The ROTC usually covers most of the costs of college (plus a living stipend), and in return the student has a paying job for the first four years out of college (albeit one with the chance of overseas deployment in a combat zone). The GI Bill is not free (the serviceman/woman pays a small amount into it for a short period of time at the beginning of the enlistment), but it is free money once the veteran goes to college, and it does not count as income when the EFC is being calculated or on an income tax return.

These are not always popular choices, but they are valid ones. I used my GI Bill to get my B.A. and did not have to take out one loan - I graduated completely debt-free (and I served before 9/11, so I had a much lower GI Bill than is currently available).
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#38 creekland

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 12:16 PM

These threads are so important! I agree, a sticky would be great.

We're looking very hard at MIT right now. Regentrude, I think my son would have a chance of being accepted, and Gwen, our assets wouldn't be a problem as we have none. LOL

DS would be interested in aerospace and astronautics at MIT (already headed that direction with Civil Air Patrol), and I know of local people in that field to ask my questions. The MIT admissions site mentioned EPGY courses and summer science camps, so I'll look into those, as well.

Of all the threads I've ever read here about college prep and planning, these two 'cautionary' threads have been the most helpful and important by far. Big thanks to all.


Just a thought, anyone with the stats to potentially get into MIT also should have the stats to make the University of Alabama free or, at least, free tuition. Alabama is putting a LOT of money into their engineering program to make it a study-worthy safety. Having a financial safety took a LOT of stress off our college apps this fall and spring.

And... I hope it works out for you with MIT! ;)
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#39 Tibbie Dunbar

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 12:28 PM

Just a thought, anyone with the stats to potentially get into MIT also should have the stats to make the University of Alabama free or, at least, free tuition. Alabama is putting a LOT of money into their engineering program to make it a study-worthy safety. Having a financial safety took a LOT of stress off our college apps this fall and spring.

And... I hope it works out for you with MIT! ;)


Thank you! That is very good to know about the University of Alabama!

The son in question, my firstborn, is still undecided about which interest to pursue. He feels almost equally passionate about seminary, law, and aerospace. LOL! I think he'd be happiest in a STEM career for the long haul, but we'll see.

Edited by Tibbie Dunbar, 19 April 2012 - 12:38 PM.


#40 Tibbie Dunbar

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 12:37 PM

#2 son has just decided to follow his Daddy's footsteps and become an electrician. I'm thrilled for him! In his case, he can live at home and save every penny of his apprentice pay, meaning he'll be able to buy his (very modest) home, truck, and tools outright when he completes the program. And a union job is part of the deal for those who complete it.

Truly, I'm very glad about this. He'll be able to stay active in Civil Air Patrol as an adult, and be a part-time TKD instructor as well, as an electrician. It would be a good life for him.

Very selfishly, I'm glad because if he has a union ticket here, he'll always live nearby.
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#41 cmarango

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 12:59 PM

I am starting to tell everyone that is contemplating going to school at the Univeristy of Florida that they should go to CC first. Why? Because the first two years are spent taking classes to fulfill general education requirements that, for the most part, have nothing to do with your major. Most of the classes feel like high school courses...they are trying to make sure that each student has a well-rounded education. Certainly a lofty goal, but not at the expense of a rigorous education.

I am guessing that there are other universities/colleges that do this as well. I know that some schools have programs where students may be exempted from these courses, but if a student has to take some of these classes then they might as well receive the same education at a CC for much less expense.

#42 Tammyla

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 01:01 PM

:lurk5:

#43 Beth S

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 01:54 PM

Just a thought, anyone with the stats to potentially get into MIT also should have the stats to make the University of Alabama free or, at least, free tuition. Alabama is putting a LOT of money into their engineering program to make it a study-worthy safety.
;)


:iagree:

Just wanted to put in a real-life plug for University of Alabama (in Tuscaloosa).

Our son is heading to Univ of AL this fall as a Mech Eng major, with their automatic out-of-state tuition (Presidential) scholarship. ACT must be between 32-36, with 3.5 GPA (I believe). Great facilities. Honors Dorm gives private room for each student (with shared living room). Beautiful campus.

ROLL TIDE!
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#44 Lori D.

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 02:27 PM

College tuition exchange  programs -- pay for in-state tuition and attend out of state at participating school. Depending on your area, here are the various exchange programs:

ISEP (300 schools in 50 countries)

NSE (200 schools in North/Eastern U.S., Canada, Guam, Puerto Rico)

MHEC (100 schools in 9 Midwestern states)

WUE and WICHE (200 schools in 16 Western U.S. states)

 

For example, for folks who live in Western states of the U.S.: the WUE (Western Undergraduate Exchange) Program, from WICHE (Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education). This reduces the amount of tuition your student would pay for going to a participating out-of-state institution. (example: resident tuition = $10K, out-of-state tuition = $20K, your WUE tuition cost = $15K -- save $5K).

"Students who are residents of WICHE states are eligible to request a reduced tuition rate of 150% of resident tuition at participating two- and four-year college programs outside of their home state. The WUE reduced tuition rate is not automatically awarded to all eligible candidates. Many institutions limit the number of new WUE awards each academic year, so apply early!"

WICHE states include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming.


Edited by Lori D., 24 September 2017 - 06:44 PM.


#45 Jane in NC

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 02:41 PM

I don't think anyone mentioned this one: consider your zip code.

Colleges like diverse populations. Private colleges in other states or regions of the country from where you live may be more inclined to give your student merit aid or grants to add to their geographically diverse base.
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#46 54879525

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 02:51 PM

I am starting to tell everyone that is contemplating going to school at the Univeristy of Florida that they should go to CC first. Why? Because the first two years are spent taking classes to fulfill general education requirements that, for the most part, have nothing to do with your major. Most of the classes feel like high school courses...they are trying to make sure that each student has a well-rounded education. Certainly a lofty goal, but not at the expense of a rigorous education.

I am guessing that there are other universities/colleges that do this as well. I know that some schools have programs where students may be exempted from these courses, but if a student has to take some of these classes then they might as well receive the same education at a CC for much less expense.


I'd be very careful about this though. I was told the same thing. Go to community college because they will accept it. It will be cheaper. On and on.

There is a university system in CT that I went to (not CC). There are four schools. I started out in one. I transferred after 1 year to another school within the same system. Everything transferred, but because they didn't offer the exact same titled courses at the other school within the same exact system they only counted them as general electives. I got the credit, but in the end it only meant I ended up graduating with more credits.

At least half the community college courses at our local CC in my city (in NY where I live now) are courses that are considered remedial. Those don't even earn credit at the bigger university. For example, Algebra 1 at the CC earns credit, but not at the university. In the university it's considered remedial, but a required prerequisite if you don't place high enough in a placement test.

Maybe state schools are more annoying about this? Who knows. That has been my experience though.

#47 54879525

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 02:52 PM

I don't think anyone mentioned this one: consider your zip code.

Colleges like diverse populations. Private colleges in other states or regions of the country from where you live may be more inclined to give your student merit aid or grants to add to their geographically diverse base.


I'm just wishing my kids will learn German so they can go to school there. :D They are both German citizens. That would be such an awesome opportunity. Unfortunately, at 10 and 6 they just aren't seeing it. ;)

#48 creekland

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 08:31 PM

I am starting to tell everyone that is contemplating going to school at the Univeristy of Florida that they should go to CC first.


NOT everyone. If someone is seriously considering med school they need to be careful about doing cc first because MED schools (not undergrad institutions) frown upon cc first seeing it as a student choosing the "easy way to get good grades" compared to weeder courses at a 4 year school. Trying to take the easy way to good grades is frowned upon (summer school, cc, auditing first, then taking for a grade, etc).

IF going to cc first, definitely don't take pre-req courses there if you want to be the most competitive for med school slots (less than half who apply make it in to ANY med school, not just top whatever). Nicks on an application don't help.

#49 TC5

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 09:13 PM

Here's another help for folks who live in Western states of the U.S.: the WUE (Western Undergraduate Exchange) Program, from WICHE (Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education). This reduces the amount of tuition your student would pay for going to a participating out-of-state institution. (example: resident tuition = $10K, out-of-state tuition = $20K, your WUE tuition cost = $15K -- save $5K).


What a great benefit! Thanks Lori.

This thread is so helpful. Thank you for starting it and to all who have given such great ideas.

#50 Trilliums

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 10:56 PM

They looked for schools they liked where they were in the top 25% of students (but not so over the top as to be bored) and they competed for local scholarships.


I'd love to read some tips on narrowing down college choices. DS has been looking into colleges with strong programs in his desired area of study, but there are so many options it is overwhelming. Plus, the highly competitive schools stand out, of course, and it is easy for him to stay focused on them! How do we start looking for good match school? Ack!



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