Syracuse.com: “Colgate University is launching a new ‘no student loan’ approach to tuition for qualifying families on its Hamilton campus … Starting this fall, the college is eliminating loans from its financial aid offers to all current and incoming students with a family income of up to $125,000, officials said. Colgate will offer grants to students who qualify to replace the loans, officials aid. Students and families who want to take out loans to cover the cost of books or other expenses can still do so if they choose … About two dozen other colleges offer similar programs, although they all have different family income limits. Some, such as Stanford and Yale, don’t have family income limits.”
“Colgate officials estimate half of the students receiving financial aid at Colgate will benefit. About 46 percent of Colgate students receive financial aid from the college. Funding for this new effort will initially come from the university’s operating budget, but plans are in place for this program to be funded by the college’s endowment and Colgate Fund through fundraising.”
“The average annual federal loan for students receiving financial aid at Colgate is about $2,200, and the average Colgate aid package for current students is about $53,000 a year.
The average debt for Colgate students who graduated in the Class of 2019 was $15,305. The national average is about $30,000.”
USA Today: “Berea College is called a ‘work college,’ meaning students must work as part of the learning experience toward a degree. There are nine official four-year work colleges, but only three offer free tuition, including Berea. Most free tuition programs are funded through a mix of endowments, alumni gifts and grants. Sometimes students’ earnings are applied to help cover tuition, but other times they keep their wages. Students usually pay for fees, room and board, books and supplies. These additional costs may be covered by federal aid like Pell Grants along with scholarships and loans.”
“While free tuition is sometimes offered at community colleges, it’s rare at four-year schools. The average undergraduate annual tuition and fees across all undergraduate institutions is $12,600, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Students at private nonprofit schools pay the most: $33,800 annually, on average.”
“Over 3,400 colleges and universities participate in the Federal Work-Study Program. To qualify, students must submit the Federal Application for Federal Student Aid and have demonstrated financial need. It’s a first-come, first-served program where jobs are not guaranteed. Among those who did work-study in 2017-18, average earnings were $1,693, according to a 2018 survey by the private lender Sallie Mae.”
Market Watch: “With college costs and student debt rising, policy makers and education leaders have touted the potential of giving high-school students the opportunity to take college courses to curb the amount of time and money they spend on their journey to a degree. But even as the programs have exploded — in some cases explicitly advertised as an antidote to our nation’s college-affordability problem — there’s limited evidence on how the college credits students earn in high school are applied toward their college degrees and whether they wind up saving the students money.”
“The bulk of colleges — 92% of public and 80% of private schools — say they have a policy of accepting college credits that students earn in high school, according to a 2016 survey from the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. But in practice, whether an individual course is accepted depends on a number of factors, the survey found. Those include the type of institution where the credits were earned, whether the receiving college offered an equivalent course and the location where the student took the course (in a high school or college classroom).”
“In other words, even in states where public colleges are required to accept the college credits students earn in high school, those credits don’t necessarily save a student from taking the required courses to complete their college degree. In order for a student to maximize college credits earned in high school, the credits need to apply to their specific degree program, but it’s often the case that these credits transfer, but don’t actually apply towards a student’s degree. The variation in credit-transfer policies often means that the onus is on families to figure out how to best maximize the college-credit students earn in high school.”
Robert Farrington: “Scholarships are the most under-rated tool when it comes to getting money to pay for school … here are my top five secrets for landing scholarships to help you pay for college.” 1) “A few years ago, Fastweb shared that $2.9 billion in grant money went unclaimed simply because people didn’t apply for the FAFSA … When you think about scholarship math in probability and expected value, applying to a lot of scholarships suddenly makes sense.” 2) “On average, about 20% of all applications get disqualified for not following the scholarship application instructions … On the flip side, this really increases the odds for those that do follow the instructions.”
3) “Instead of waiting to the last minute, apply for scholarships early. Even better, plan out a scholarship application calendar and treat it like homework. This will allow you to space out your scholarship applications and hopefully prevent you from missing a deadline.” 4) “When you apply for the scholarship, let others know you applied for it. Show your enthusiasm. Be excited for the organization, the mission, and the opportunity … scholarships are also a form of advertising for the organization. As an entrant in a scholarship, you can help them amplify their message – and this can help get you noticed as well. If the organizer not only sees your scholarship entry, but then they also see your enthusiasm online, it could give you the edge you need to win.”
5) “If you apply to just 20 scholarships, you can have a real chance of getting a substantial amount of money to pay for college.”
The Washington Post: “In just a few weeks, families across the country will find out how much their children will receive in financial aid … This will send students and their parents into a frenzy over how to persuade the colleges to give them more assistance. Negotiating for additional financial aid isn’t easy … But if you want to plead your case for more money, there’s a way to strengthen your argument.” Mark Kantrowitz comments: “Negotiation for more financial aid depends on presenting a college financial aid office with documentation of special circumstances that affect the family’s ability to pay.”
“Here’s the reality: Most demands for more money fail — miserably. Although appeals are seldom successful, you have a slightly better chance at private nonprofit schools and high-cost colleges, which often have a policy of providing more aid to needy students … If, however, your financial circumstances have changed, it’s worthwhile to submit an appeal. A number of special circumstances can affect a family’s ability to pay. These include a recent job loss or salary reduction, unusually high child-care expenses, or medical costs not covered by health insurance.”
“Kantrowitz provides useful suggestions on writing an appeal letter, including the do’s and don’ts. For example, don’t ask for a specific amount of money. Do detail a significant financial hardship.”
CNBC: “According to the College Board’s 2018 Trends in College Pricing Report, from 1988 to 2018, sticker prices tripled at public four-year schools and doubled at public two-year and private non-profit four-year schools … During the 2018 – 2019 school year, the reported tuition at private non-profit four-year schools is an average $35,830. But in reality, many students end up paying far less. Here’s how. College ‘sticker prices’ include tuition, fees, room and board (TFRB) and do not account for scholarships, grants and tax benefits … students typically pay less than the published price.”
“In fact, the average net price of tuition and fees in 2019 is $14,610 at private nonprofit four-year schools. These students typically receive an average $21,220 in grant aid and tax benefits. Similar discounts are also in effect at public colleges. During the 2018 – 2019 school year, the reported sticker price for in-state students is $10,230 at public four-year schools, but the average net tuition and fees is closer to $3,740.”
However: “Many students underestimate the cost of living expenses when they go to college … more than a third of students struggle with basic needs such as food and housing. Prospective students also often overlook graduation rates when they are considering colleges, but they can be an important measures of a school’s quality and cost … just 40 percent of first-time full-time bachelor’s students earn their degree in four years, and only 59 percent earn their bachelor’s in six years … students may want to estimate what six years of tuition and fees will cost them at schools with low four-year graduation rates, and be mindful of planning their schedules and making the most of AP and other college credits.”
With so much attention diverting to the deep, dark underside of higher education, let’s take a moment to shine a light on a hometown hidden gem: Norwalk Community College. NCC may not project much as a status symbol, but it certainly deserves serious consideration by certain high-schoolers. Surprisingly, this includes the highest performing students.
Here’s why: The most selective universities favor applicants who not only take advantage of everything their high schools have to offer, but who also pursue additional opportunities above and beyond the norm. Students who want to impress dream schools with their passion for learning should think about enrolling in a high-level course or two at NCC. Their application will be all the more outstanding and memorable for it.
NCC is, of course, best known as a place for those who are just not quite ready for a four-year college experience. This could be because of academic issues, financial considerations, emotional state, or some other personal reason. For such students and others, NCC offers an attractive pathway to a four-year college. For one thing, it maintains a special arrangement with UConn, which guarantees transfer admission to NCC associate-degree graduates with at least a 3.0. Not bad! For another, it provides a low-cost way to earn college credits before transferring to a four-year school.
At a two-year tuition cost of about $9,000, students can take care of basic college requirements on their way to a bachelor’s degree at one of America’s finer universities, up to and including the Ivy League. It’s a fact: NCC grads have been known to go onto Columbia, Yale and other highly selective schools. Indeed, many elite schools pride themselves on accepting community college grads.
Sadly, community colleges are often dismissed and even derided. That’s not only unfair, but outdated and just plain wrong. Right here, in our own backyard, is a local treasure, Norwalk Community College. Can you dig it?