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Guide to the Costs and Payoff of Attending University

With the cost of attending university rising every year, parents are concerned about what to expect when it’s time for their children to go to college. Funding is a huge issue for parents as well as students and it is important for parents to have all the information they need to see if their investment may pay off in the future or if attending college from home makes more financial sense.

Tuition fees

Universities in most countries today charge tuition fees and if your child is enrolling in a foreign university you may expect to pay a higher price in comparison to domestic students. Tuition fees vary greatly from university to university so parents will have to research and compare the costs of each university and course before they pick one. Tuition fees will also be different for private universities and state universities. As a general rule, private universities tend to have higher fees. The fees will also depend on the academic program you choose.

Living expenses

Other than tuition fees, parents will also need to factor in living expenses. Your child will need funding for accommodation, food, books, study materials, activities, transportation and more. Add health insurance, visas and other additional costs if your child will be attending a university abroad. In most cases you will be able to get an estimate of expected living expenses from universities before you enroll. You can also check government websites for local living costs to get better insight into what to expect when you budget.

Student loan

If your child plans to take a student loan to fund the expense of university, you should take the time to understand how these loans work. Student loans are made up of two parts: tuition fees and living expenses. The amount that you can borrow will depend on several factors such as grants they receive, household income, location of university and more. The living cost and tuition fee loans combined will provide you an estimate of the total debt your child will have. Student loans have to be repaid once your child graduates and starts working. Interest rates vary based on the source of the student loan but if it is a national scheme student loan, interest rates are generally very low. Use online calculators to get a close estimate of what kind of debt you can expect with different student loans.

Financial assistance

Most universities today provide fee waivers and bursaries to students from low income families. Scholarships and grants are also often available so you may want to first contact the shortlisted universities to see if your child is eligible for financial assistance. In certain cases, you may be able to make multiple payments towards the tuition fees throughout the year instead of paying the entire amount upfront. You may also be eligible for many government grants and financial assistance schemes based on your household earnings.

Student jobs

Most students attending universities take up part-time jobs to contribute towards their living expenses. Search for job options available on campus as well as off campus and estimate what your child may be able to earn. If your child plans to study abroad there may be restrictions on the type and amount of work that is allowed. It is important to understand that students do not spend too much time on a job since it may negatively impact their academic performance.

What is the payoff of attending university?

When you are investing a considerable amount in your child’s education, it makes sense to ensure that there will be some financial payoff from the money you invest. Graduates tend to typically earn more than those who do not have a degree. Before you pick a university and a course, consult reports, job market news and labor reports to get an idea of what type of jobs are available, salary expectations and estimate of future demand for graduates in a particular field. You may also want to select a university that provides your child career support, advice and internships.

Studying abroad definitely makes a student more employable as employers generally value international experience. Parents should also spend some time finding out how a particular university ranks in world rankings and if it is viewed favorably by employers.

Ways to make money while in college

Going to college is expensive. For many students, simply covering the cost of tuition, fees, and room and board is a challenge. After paying those expenses, there may be little left in your budget. You need some spending money to fully enjoy the university experience. Going out with your friends, or just having pizza delivered to your dorm, requires cash. There are many ways students can make money while in college.

On Campus

An array of part-time jobs is available on university campuses. They may not pay much, but usually can be crafted around your schedule of classes and school activities. You can work in an administrative office, the cafeteria, the library or another university facility. Sign up to be a residence assistant, in the dorms; or a professor’s assistant, grading papers and doing research. Find out if a custodian job is available. Fraternities and sororities often hire students to do housecleaning and other chores. Take part in a research study, or take notes in class and sell them. Some colleges hire students to give campus tours to prospective students, or conduct orientation sessions for incoming freshmen.

Parents are increasingly hiring tutors to help their children. Many university students also need assistance with their studies. There are always students, in high school and college, who require individual instruction in math, science or other subjects. You also may be able to give music lessons or assist kids with other artistic pursuits. Determine your strongest subject, then post flyers and perhaps advertise in a college publication. Check to see if there are any local tutoring services that hire students. Check out the Sylvan and Kumon tutoring services, and visit tutor.com.

In the Community

Other types of jobs may be found off campus, in the community. If your college is in a small town, you have fewer opportunities. You have to be creative, patient and persistent. Prepare a resume and learn good interviewing skills. You need to sell yourself to an employer, so do not be bashful about emphasizing your knowledge and skills.

Retailers frequently hire students for sales clerk, cashier and other positions. Many are willing to work around students’ schedules. Start by speaking with owners of stores selling things that you find interesting. Emphasize your knowledge of the products or services, as well as your customer-service skills. Check help-wanted advertisements in local newspapers and shoppers, as well as on Craigslist. Look at postings on bulletin boards and in college publications. Keep in mind that sales jobs that offer commissions pay better than standard part-time, minimum-wage work. Sales positions may be in shops, on the telephone or door-to-door.

Other ideas for working in the community include paid internships, work-study programs, delivering newspapers and donating blood. Among the jobs at private homes are babysitting, dog walking, lawn mowing, snow shoveling and house painting. Some students make money by running errands, like grocery shopping, for people. An elderly resident of the community may need a driver. Create an eye-catching flyer advertising your services, and post it in prominent locations around town.

Online

Some students use their computers to earn money. Various websites offer opportunities to review products or services, and take part in focus groups or other market research. There are companies that will pay you to fill out opinion surveys, or evaluate products and services as a mystery shopper. Sites like Odesk and Elance list a range of online jobs, including article writing, web design and programming.

Back home in your old bedroom, or the attic or garage, you may have possessions with some value that you no longer want. Sell them on eBay or Craigslist. You also can make money by buying stuff at garage sales, yard sales and thrift shops that can be resold online. Sell other people’s items, too, and keep a percentage of the profit. If you are good at taking pictures, check out websites that pay for photographs. If you enjoy shooting videos, come up with an original idea for a YouTube channel to showcase your work.

You need to assess your strengths to determine the type of part-time work that is best for you. Your financial needs and college schedule also are factors. A part-time retail job is a good idea for those with strong communication and people skills, while more introverted students may prefer online work. Consider all the available options and see which ones match your interests. You just may find an enjoyable way to make money while in college.

Understanding Tuition and Other Costs

Selecting the right college for yourself or your child entails numerous factors. High on the list of considerations is the cost, which varies widely among schools.

If you are looking to apply to a college, you first need to find out how much it charges for tuition and fees. You also have to know the price tag for room and board, as well as books and supplies. Here is some information to aid you in understanding tuition and other costs involved in a college education.

Tuition

Tuition is the fee charged for the actual college education, charged by the semester or quarter. It is the sum you pay to sit in classrooms and be taught by qualified professors. Students who live in the same state as the school usually pay about half the tuition rate charged to out-of-staters.

Private schools typically have steeper tuition rates than those charged by public colleges. Students pursuing majors in science, engineering, computers, medicine, and the fine arts often are assessed higher tuition.

While the rate of increase in the cost of tuition slowed in 2013, the price continues to rise. Average in-state tuition that year in the United States was $8,893 at four-year, public universities and colleges; and $30,090 at private post-secondary schools.

The highest tuition rates in 2013-14 were at colleges in New Hampshire and Vermont, while the most affordable institutions were in Wyoming and Alaska. Half of full-time students at four-year institutions paid less than $10,300 in tuition and fees in 2012-13, according to the College Board.

Remember that those figures represent the initial cost, before financial aid and student loans are factored into the equation. Pell grants and other federal programs are available. Colleges and universities offer scholarships, as well as reduced rates for low-income students.

U.S. News & World Report compiled a ranking of “best value schools,” taking into account academic quality and tuition rates. The top five were Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. While these universities charge relatively high tuition rates, significant financial aid is available.

Fees

In addition to tuition, colleges and universities charge a wide array of fees. The first ones you have to pay are the registration and orientation fees. There are also fees for parking spaces, library access, student union membership, recreational facility use, laboratory supplies, access to computers, and student activities.

This is a partial list, as each college has different fees. Waivers for certain types of fees are sometimes available. Speak with the college’s financial-aid administrator about any assistance for which you may be qualified.

Many colleges total their fees and charge a single sum, along with tuition. The College Board reported that the average cost of tuition and fees in the 2012-13 school year was $8,655 for in-state students at public colleges and $29,056 for those attending private schools.

Room and Board

Another significant expense involves student housing and food. The amount varies widely, depending on the sort of housing and meal plan you choose. For instance, simple dorms are cheaper than large apartments. Your room may have a bathroom, or you could have to share bathing facilities down the hall. You can save money by living with more than one roommate.

Colleges and universities generally lump the cost of housing and meals, also called room and board, into a single expense. The average amount in 2012-13 was $9,205 at public schools and $10,462 at private institutions.

An option is to buy a meal plan, but live off campus. You may want to commute from your old home, or rent an apartment (by yourself or with other students).

Books and Supplies

Students also have to come up with money for books and supplies. They must buy textbooks, reference books, and other printed materials. Required supplies include notebooks, file folders, pens, and pencils.

The average cost of these items in the 2012-13 school year reportedly was $1,200 at public colleges and $1,244 at private schools.

Total Cost

According to the College Board, in-state students at public colleges paid an average of $22,261 during the 2012-13 school year for tuition, fees, supplies, meals, and housing. The organization reported that a “moderate” budget for a private college that year was $43,289.

In deciding which colleges to consider, you need to know how much they charge for everything. Then, find out about the financial aid you might be able to get. Understanding tuition and other costs may help get you into the best college you can afford.

Funding Your College Education

In USA, finding a way to pay for college is a big concern for many people who want to further their education. Everyone knows that a college education is not cheap, and many people graduate owing thousands in student loans. Annual tuition can run anywhere from an average of $8,000 to $30,000. Costs could be higher if student is from out-of-state or an International student.

Thankfully, there are ways to pay your college education that will leave you owing less money. Some creative graduates have even completed their education debt-free. While some of the options are not easy to access and are definitely not for everyone, they are worth trying. Following even one of the steps below can help you with paying for college.

Minimizing Student Loan Debt

It is possible to leave college without a lot of debt hanging over your head. The good thing is that you can start planning and working towards a debt-free college education while still in high school.

Advanced Placement (A.P.)

This is a great way for a high school student to earn college credits before actually going to college. This means that you will need fewer credits in college. Check with a few colleges to see if the courses you want to take in A.P. will count towards your major or general courses. This will help you decide which courses to take in Advanced Placement.

Of course, there are other ways such as taking some college courses while you are still attending high school. Taking online courses can build up college credit and you can even be exempted from some courses. Online study might also work for you since you won’t have to worry about expenses like transportation or accommodation.

Scholarship

Don’t feel that only the brilliant kids can get scholarships. Even students who don’t have the top grades can get scholarships and bursaries for college. The wide variety available will surprise you, but you need to search for them. Your school counselor will probably know about scholarships that you can apply for. One website that is very useful in helping people find suitable scholarships is FastWeb.com.

Accelerated programs

These kinds of programs help you complete college sooner than the normal three to four years. It does mean more school work, but if you are organized enough to manage the increased workload, this is a good option. The longer you remain in college the more you pay and the longer you will take to start working.

Working While Studying

This is an age-old method of paying for college. Again, it is not for everyone as some people will not be able to juggle a job and schoolwork. However, if you know how to manage your time, you can work your way through college. You will end up with less debt after completing your studies.

Finally, after you graduate, think about programs that can help to shrink your student loan debt. One of these is the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 for full-time public service workers. If you have ever thought about working for the government, you should explore this option.

Choosing the Right College

Depending on the college you choose, you can significantly reduce the cost of your education. Some people apply only to big name schools, overlooking great colleges that charge lower tuition fees. They also avoid community colleges which are cheaper than traditional colleges, even though they offer similar programs.

With the right approach and some planning, it is definitely possible to leave college without a huge debt hanging over your head. For those who have the right grades and students who are willing to work hard, it is possible to go through college almost for free.

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