Paying for College
HOW MUCH WILL COLLEGE COST
The first step in paying for college is making a complete list of your tuition and other projected expenses. Find the total dollar amount that college will cost you per year by adding your expected tuition, book, housing and school expenses costs together.
- Tuition costs are assessed in cost per credit. Each college course will have a designated number of credits depending on the work required by the student. A course that offers a high number of credits will have more course hours in the classroom and more expected work outside the classroom than a course with a fewer number of credits.
- A typical student course load is 12 credits per semester. Most colleges will list tuition costs per year at a rate of (cost per credit) x 24 for a year with two 12 credit semesters.
- College textbooks can be expensive and should always be factored into your budget for attending college. You can ask a student in the program you want to attend how much they typically spend per semester to get an idea of how much this might cost. Your college’s bookstore also might be able to give you a ballpark figure on how much students spend per semester on books.
- You can locate tuition costs by visiting your college’s website or calling their admissions office. Most colleges have a website with plenty of information about their tuition and other projected fees for students. For example, FIU gives a full list of expected student expenses and MDC has a similar list.
Net price calculators- tools to allow students to easily tally up the total cost of attending college- are an easy way to find that final number. FIU offers a complete net price calculator.
PAYING FOR COLLEGE
Many students don’t apply to college after being confronted with the financial burden of paying for tuition and other education-related expenses. Don’t let that stop you! There are many different programs in Miami-Dade County that can help prospective students finance their educational dreams.
By combining scholarships, grants, loans and work study programs, students who would otherwise be unable to obtain a degree can attend a Florida higher education institution. Visit the sites below to learn more about opportunities from these organizations, including several of !¡¡HACER!!’s partners.
UAspire is a program that helps students figure out how to pay for college. Their experts can help you fill out the FAFSA, search for scholarships and offer financial aid counseling. You can find your local advisor at this page http://www.uaspire.org/students/advisors.
The FAFSA stands for “Free Application for Federal Student Aid”. In order to be eligible for government grants and loans, you must fill it out every year. Make sure you mark the deadline on your calendar in advance as this is one of the most important dates of the year when it comes to financing college.
Federal Student Aid
Federal Student Aid is an office of the US Department of Education and has an online portal where you can learn about eligibility for federal loans and other forms of aid. Read up on whether or not you’ll be able to receive various forms of federal assistance with college; this simple graphic summarizes the requirements quite nicely.
SingleStopUSA is a non-profit organization that has partnered with Miami Dade College to provide Miami Dade College students and their families with free benefits screenings, free tax preparation, free financial aid counseling and free legal assistance.
Bank of America
Bank of America has a free online tool for planning your funding for college. You can create a personalized path to attending college and access lots of free information about the different types of loans available, download college checklists and save your notes. Using a tool like this is a great way to track your progress and set goals to meet your deadlines.
Florida Student Scholarship and Grant Program
There are many opportunities for students to receive scholarships or grants through the Florida Student Scholarship and Grant Program. Each award has a list of eligibility requirements you can read about here. For example, if you earned a 3.0 GPA, took the ACT or SAT and have community service hours you may be eligible to receive a scholarship through the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program.
Students in Florida graduate from four year institutions with an average of $24,054 in loan debt. Loans can be a necessary step in receiving a college degree, but you can take several steps to cut costs and avoid graduating with too much loan debt.
Make sure you have attempted to cover your tuition and other expenses through scholarships and grants first, since those awards do not have to be paid back. The FAFSA is an important piece in determining which federal grants you might qualify for, so fill out your FAFSA application as soon as possible.
Next, investigate your options for work-study or other employment during school. A part-time job can help you support your college career, even by working a few hours a week. Summer can be a great time to work more hours and save up for the upcoming semester.
After you have minimized the amount you must borrow, it is time to decide whether you will borrow from federal or private lending institutions. Each has its own pros and cons. Compare your options for repayment, interest rates, co-signers, and other features in order to determine which is right for you.
Many lending institutions offer free online calculators to help parents and students estimate the cost of college including loan repayment. Bank of America has a loan calculator here.