A few weeks ago my son who is a senior in high school came home and told me that he was asked by a counselor at his school whether he needed to apply for scholarships to attend college. Even though I have discussed with him the need to apply for scholarships, I was shocked by his sincere questioning of me as to whether he needed to do so. I have been very upfront with each of my children upon entering high school that they are going to need to contribute to their college education. It is a conversation I urge each family to have with their high school student no matter what your financial circumstances. Many times there is a disconnect between what parents are willing or able to pay and what students think their parents will pay.
We don’t have that big college fund set aside capable of sending each our children to colleges with the price tags of $50,000 per year per student once you take all expenses into account. In the past 15 years.we have started two businesses, had a downturn in the economy, been raising teenagers, sending our first child through college, and been saving for retirement. That has severely affected our capacity to set aside enough funds. Even if we did have the funds, I think it is important for students to take some personal responsibility for their college education and contribute.
I encourage all middle class families to apply for financial aid and not base the colleges that students apply to on the initial sticker price. There are scholarships available that are not based on financial need. Scholarships can be based on strong academics, community service, sports participation, area of study, etc. Why should you pay money for college that you don’t have to? Furthermore, financial need is viewed differently by each college, especially private colleges. Things other than your income such as multiple students attending college, parents attending college, caring for an elderly parent, and having large medical expenses are things that colleges may consider when determining whether you have financial need.
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Note: To all high school seniors and current college students, The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) – fafsa.ed.gov – for this upcoming fall is now available. Check with the colleges you are applying to or currently attend, it is usually a required step in applying for financial aid and you don’t want to miss any deadlines!
Pathways 4 Teens offers events on “How to Search Effectively for Scholarships” and “The True Cost of College and How to Pay for It”. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or go to our website http://www.pathways4teens.com for more information.