"Education is the most
powerful weapon which
you can use to change
the world".

-- Nelson Mandela



"Genius without education
is like silver in the mine."
-- Benjamin Franklin

Archive for the ‘college costs’ Category

Tuition-Free College Programs Gain Momentum

Friday, November 7th, 2008

Tuition-free college may be on the horizon for students in Racine, Wisconsin.

The program is being considered as a way to increase the education level of its community and to provide incentive for high school students to stay in school and graduate.

A similar program is already working in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where it has increased minority graduation rates by 15% and created over 5,000 new jobs.

But one of the greatest success stories is the long-standing Georgia Hope Scholarship and Grant Program, which was established in 1993 to provide tuition-free college to the state’s resident students who graduate from high school with a ‘B’ average and maintain that grade point average throughout college. The program is fully-funded by the Georgia Lottery for Education and has already poured over $3.8 billion into helping more than 1.1 million students attend its public colleges, private colleges and vocational schools.

A few online schools, like Western Governors University, also offer hefty scholarship programs that target students pursuing specialized career areas, like rural teaching.

If Racine gets its way, it will join the ranks of an elite group of education innovators.

And then the tuition-free baton can be passed on to other forward-thinking communities.

tuition-free colleges, tuition-free, college tuition, college costs, colleges, free_tuition, minority graduation, Racine, Kalamazoo, online schools

Popularity: 12% [?]

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Tight Economy Does World of Good for Public Colleges

Friday, November 7th, 2008

The tight economy has done a world of good for public colleges and universities across the U.S.

Although graduating high school seniors once flooded private universities in the past, that trend is changing as students choose less-expensive public colleges.

Families that were once willing to make hefty financial sacrifices for their college-bound sons and daughters are now looking long and hard at the impact that such a significant outlay will have on the family’s bottom line.

Public colleges are reaping the benefits of the doubt, fear and financial uncertainty in our nation.

According to USA Today, the California State University system reports a 15% increase in college applications over last year’s numbers. And the State University of New York system reports a 50% increase in applications since last year.

The same budget-conscious mindset that has toppled major retail stores is now impacting the private college system; and some say it will get worse before it gets better.

Online degree programs are also poised for a boom, as students realize that they can work a full-time job and take advantage of the flexibility to study when it is convenient. E-learning is popular in traditional universities; and online schools continue to grow in popularity.

For students who need to live at home and shed the high expense a college dorm, distance learning has emerged as a practical way to earn a college degree while gaining job experience and cutting costs.

Private colleges and universities must begin to beef up student financial aid and keep tuition rates from automatic rate hikes, so families will know the fixed amount that they are spending for 4 years of college.

A fixed tuition rate for the 4 years would also afford college students the ability to go “college shopping” with accurate costs in hand. Utilizing Inexpensive junior colleges for the first 2 years is also a money-saving strategy that can save tens of thousands of dollars.

Trouble in the U.S. economy is helping to redefine the way high school graduates envision their college experience.

And perhaps that is not such a bad thing at all.

world of good, colleges and universities, distance learning, e-learning, online schools, online degree program, high schools, public colleges, college costs

Popularity: 6% [?]

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Strategies to Consider as Student Loans Shrink Under Shadow of Recession

Saturday, April 12th, 2008

Today’s New York Times warns that as banking institutions flee the student loan market, parents and students will have fewer options for financing a college education.

On the heels of Alan Greenspan’s exclusive interview a few days ago with CNBC, in which he stated that “we are in the throes of a recession” and “we have not confronted a situation like this in over half a century”, the news of a financial aid crisis should not come as a surprise.

As job losses increase, including over 80,000 in March 2008, it may be imperative for parents to plan more carefully and broaden their list of options before deciding on a strategy to pay for higher education for their children.

Strategies to consider may include the following:

  • Begin planning early for college and choose schools with generous financial aid programs.
  • Maintain a strong credit rating in order to be eligible for the best interest rates if private loans become necessary.
  • If applicable, research scholarship options for students with special talents or abilities — like sports or music.
  • Speak to financial aid counselors at the colleges of interest; and in deciding about a college, weigh heavily that college’s ability to provide a full financial aid package that will cover tuition, housing and fees.
  • Cut college costs by almost half by choosing junior college attendance for the first two years of higher education, followed by a transfer to a 4-year university.
  • Choose a reasonably-priced and accredited online degree program that will allow the student to work part-time or full-time and pay a significant portion of college costs.
  • Encourage the student to begin accumulating college credit in high school by scoring high on AP (Advanced Placement) tests and/or by taking college classes at the local junior college while in high school.

No doom and gloom economic forecast should keep anyone from succesfully navigating the choppy waters of college financial aid.

Instead, with advanced planning and a little bit of research, motivated students and their parents should be able to discover a workable solution to meet the rising costs of a college education.

online degree program, parents, student loans, college students, financial aid, college education, job losses, higher education, college costs, junior college, recession

Popularity: 6% [?]

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Student Loan Debt Takes a Toll on Society

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

When we hear that student loan debt has grown more than 57% in the last five years, it sounds rather ominous. 

And its effect on financially-burdened students is devastating, as it is for their parents who are taking out hefty second mortgages and private loans to pay for college.

A Mountain of Debt

According to the Project for Student Debt, at least 10% of students who attend private, non-profit 4-year colleges are $40,000 or more in debt; and half have at least $19,500 in education loans. Students in specialties like medicine or law may incur loan totals of $100,000 or more.

To top it off, students who receive Pell Grants – and who are from lower income families — are likely to borrow more money and graduate from college with more debt than students from higher income families.

When students leave college with such overwhelming financial debt, the impact is not only felt by the graduating student, but also by the society at large.

How We All Lose to Student Debt

According to the New York Times, the ball-and-chain of student debt is a deterrent to students who might otherwise choose public service jobs. These are the jobs that serve the poor, the disenfranchised, children and other individuals with limited resources.

For example, it is becoming more difficult to lure Harvard law graduates into lower-paying public service jobs – like prosecutors and public defenders – when they can easily command over $100,000 in corporate law positions upon graduation from the prestigious university. 

Expensive law schools like Harvard leave little choice for those who must consider how to repay student loans resulting from their high-priced education. 

Student loan debt also forces the hand of those who are interested in professions like teaching, firefighting, and social work. Instead, debt-heavy college graduates must often choose higher-paying jobs in business and private industry over lower-paying public service jobs.

And many who might have taken financial risks to start their own business are less likely to do so with huge college bills hanging over their heads.

What Solutions are Available

Harvard University decided to take a step in the right direction by offering a tuition break to law students who choose to serve the public. In their third year of law school, Harvard students will receive free tuition in exchange for a 5-year commitment to work in a public service job. This tuition break is worth about $40,000 to those who step up to the plate.

But there are other money-saving strategies:

  • Budget-conscious parents and students should shop for less expensive colleges that offer a quality education at a fraction of the cost. Public universities in the student’s state of residence generally offer a substantial difference in tuition cost as compared with a private college.
  • Accredited online schools, which vary widely in tuition rates, offer students the opportunity to take classes at home via computer, which allows the scheduling of study time around a full or part-time job. In addition to bringing in additional income, employment in the student’s field of study has the added advantage of providing valuable work experience that may be critical to landing a higher-paying job upon graduation.
  • Junior college is a great tuition-saving option for the first two years of college, leaving only two years of student loans at a 4-year institution for the final two college years. The student receives his or her college degree from a school of choice, but will spend only half the money that would have been shelled out for four years. The cost of junior college in the state of residence is negligible in comparison to most private or public 4-year institutions.
  • Loan forgiveness programs are generally limited in availability, but may help some who meet the narrow criteria. Usually, graduates are required to work in a low-income school, clinic or other designated environment after graduation for a set length of time in order to qualify for a permanent reduction in student loan debt.

The issue of mounting educational debt is one that is expected to become critical in the coming years. And unfortunately, when graduating students are pulled away from public service employment by financial concerns, we all lose.

Parents and students may need to rethink the way they choose colleges. And perhaps they should treat college tuition like they would any other household expenditure – with prudent and fact-laden scrutiny.

accredited online schools, online school, student loans, Harvard, college tuition, student debt, junior college, college, jobs

Popularity: 6% [?]

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Hefty College Tuition Costs Can Be Avoided

Monday, February 25th, 2008

As college tuition rates continue to rise beyond the comfort zone of most parents and their students, the search for ways to reduce this hefty expense has become a mission for many families.  According to US News and World Report, students are paying an average of $35,000 a year at private colleges and universities this year. Public university costs are close to $17,000 annually.

The problem is that these numbers continue to go up each year, rising faster than the rate of inflation. Parents with young children need to figure out how they plan to deal with this major cost linked to their child’s future.

Technology Can Help

Not long ago, the price of a long-distance phone call was pricey. Like international calls now, they had a per-minute rate and had to be carefully planned. But new technologies (and deregulation) have lowered these costs tremendously; and those who are tech-savvy can even use their computers to call long-distance for free.

College costs can also be high; but ever-changing technology offers solutions that were not available before this age of personal computers, MP3 players and YouTube.

Low-Cost Online Degree Programs

Although online degree programs can be just as expensive as a traditional college education, there are some that still charge a reasonable tuition. For example, Western Governors University, which is based in Utah, offers a high-quality, low-priced college education at a non-profit school. The cost is just $2,790 for each 6-month term for an undergraduate program and $3,250 for graduate programs.

The financial advantage of an online degree program is that the student can work a full-time or part-time job while earning a college degree.  Also, there are no costs tied to educational housing or transportation. In addition, accredited online schools usually offer the same federal financial aid and scholarship options as brick-and-mortar schools.

Financial Aid

Financial aid options are available to qualified students who are accepted into accredited online degree programs. Western Governor’s University, for example, offers their own private scholarships to teachers, military personnel and others. Students and parents should research the availability of similar private scholarships to decrease education costs.

Each year, tens of thousands of dollars in private scholarship money remains unused, simply because students did not apply for the monies. Private scholarship applications can be lengthy and often involve writing an essay; however the pay-off can be sweet for those who make the effort to fill them out and meet the deadlines.

Junior Colleges

Parents and students who are looking for ways to save on college costs will find a wealth of opportunity at junior colleges. It is possible to attend a low-cost junior college for 2 years, then transfer to a college of choice. Students should talk to a counselor and express their degree objective so that the best plan of coursework can be mapped out and pursued. This step is vital for students who wish to either earn an associate’s degree or tranfer to a 4-year institution.

Local 2-year colleges have been adding online classes to their on-campus offerings; and many are beginning to include online associate’s degrees and online certificate programs. But often, students will discover that junior colleges generally offer a mixture of online and on-campus classes for degree completion.

However, at less than $50 a unit, junior college classes are a bargain for local students. Out-of-state students will need to establish a period of residency before taking advantage of low tuition rates.

Students can finish a 2-year degree for next-to-nothing, then apply to the 4-year college of their choice. Highly selective schools that had no room for the student as a freshman will often welcome the same student as a 3rd-year transfer student. It is important, of course, for students to do well in junior college if the plan is to transfer later.

Junior college/Online School Combo

Another option for bargain-hunting students involves taking as many online courses as possible at the junior college, then transferring to an online school to finish the bachelor’s degree.

Accredited online schools have a wealth of resources for students who do not have the time or inclination to step foot on a college campus. Whether for reasons of work, distance from the school, health challenges, or travel, many students find distance learning to be the best possible way to earn a college degree at a reasonable cost.

But the bottom line is that it is important to explore the different options. By planning ahead, any student should be financially able to afford a college education without spending future years in debt.

And parents who desire the best schooling for their children can make choices that prevent mortgaging their own futures.

online degrees, distance learning, military personnel, teachers, college_degree, parents, colleges and universities, college education, financial aid, paying for college, high tuition, college tuition, online associates degree, online bachelors_degree, online certificate program, junior college, children, students

Popularity: 7% [?]

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Harvard Gives Major Tuition Break to Higher Income Families

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

Beginning next fall, according to the Los Angeles Times, families with incomes of $180,000 or less will receive a major tuition break from Harvard University.

These families are increasingly unable to pay for their children to attend the highly-esteemed, expensive school. The cost of tuition, room and board at Harvard is approximately $45,620 a year. But with the new financial aid plan announced this week, those in this upper-middle-class bracket will generally pay only about 10% of their income for tuition. 

Harvard has a history of helping students from poor families to attend college. Currently, students whose families make $60,000 or less are able to attend the university tuition-free. But since Harvard eliminated student loans, even families with incomes above $60,000 have found it difficult to pay the hefty tuition fees.

Although the new tuition plan will cost Harvard an additional $22 million a year, the private university has one of the largest endowments in the country — $34.9 billion – to help pay for it.

Still, Harvard’s philanthropic efforts have generally paved the way for other like-minded universities to do what they can to help those who cannot afford to attend college. And with the rising costs of higher education, more than just the poor are being left behind.

Hopefully, Harvard University’s actions will spur other schools to consider the plight of the middle classes, in addition to those from lower income levels, and to help relieve some of the financial burden of escalating college costs.  A number of accredited online schools already offer lower tuition rates; but there is still a long way to go.

tuition, Harvard, financial aid, college students, higher education, universities, college costs, tuition-free, middle class, accredited online schools  

Popularity: 6% [?]

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