College affordability will never be off topic. Paying for college can be costly, especially if your child is attending an institution out of state. I would like to take this moment to share with you some ways that can make college affordable. Two plus Two: The first two years of college are the same for the most part. During the first two years, you earn 36 general education and 24 elective college credits. It cost less to earn those first 60 credits at a community college. Some community colleges have partnerships with local four year institutions. In most cases, completion of an Associates in Arts (AA) Degree guarantees admission into the four year university. Also, some institutions have transfer scholarships. Completing your college application and free application for federal student aid (FAFSA) can increase your chances of earning additional funds to attend college. Inquire about “preferred” submission dates; then try to have your paperwork completed and submitted by those dates. The maximum Pell Grant amount for 2016 is $5815. If your child is eligible for the full Pell Grant award and takes a full course load during the fall and spring term, chances are they will be out of Pell by the summer term. Securing additional scholarships and grants is crucial. Often time, scholarships and grants do not have to be paid back. Here are few legit resources for scholarships:
https://www.salliemae.com/plan-for-college/scholarships/scholarship-search/ (yes Sallie Mae actually offers scholarships)
https://www.pinellaseducation.org/Scholarships/Scholarship/Catalog (Pinellas County Residents)
Also, inquire about any TRIO programs on campus. Trio programs “are Federal outreach and student services programs designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. TRIO includes eight programs targeted to serve and assist low-income individuals, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities to progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to post baccalaureate programs. TRIO also includes a training program for directors and staff of TRIO projects.” On a personal note, I am an alumni of the Student Support Services Trio Program. Through the program, I received assistance with textbooks, scholarships, career and life planning services and mentoring. The program was extremely helpful and part of the reason why I succeeded in college. Also, recently my daughter just completed a college readiness program at a local college and earned three transferable college credits. The program was completely paid for by the college. She was able to complete a computer course and gain valuable college and life planning skills.
Sending our children to college without amassing a huge amount of debt is possible. For parents whose income may not qualify their children for additional programs or services, the plan should be to look for any academic non need based scholarships. Need based scholarships often go by income or Pell eligibility, whereas academic scholarships do not. Also, if your child is strong academically, some counties offer the opportunity for children to be dual enrolled or attend a collegiate high school all together. Should your child take this route, they can amass a nice amount of college credits and in some cases graduate with their AA degree for free.
I hope this information is helpful. Please feel free to share it with someone you feel may benefit.
Janet Michelle, xoxo