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Tuition Cost

Should I limit my college choices based on tuition? #financial-aid #tuition #college #college-advice

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Roger’s Answer

I would not limit your college choices based on tuition costs. Depending on your academics, leadership abilities, test scores, grades, and other attributes, you might be surprised how much money colleges will provide in financial assistance.

I have two daughters who recently went and graduated from college. While in California high schools, both of my daughters received very generous financial awards and scholarships to go to specific colleges. They did not ask for the money. It was offered to them by the colleges where they applied.

Both of my daughters received UNSOLICITED scholarships from colleges. One daughter (high school GPA of 3.9) received an academic FULL RIDE (Tuition, room & board, books) to Fresno State University. Another daughter (high school GPA of 3.1) received $32,000 ($8,000 a year) to go to the University of Arizona. My daughters' did not apply for these scholarships -- the schools offered these scholarships to them with no strings attached.

So, I do not recommend limiting your choices based on tuition.

Kevon, I see that you live in Memphis. I recommend checking out the University of Mississippi... just 85 miles south of your city. "Ole Miss" was my youngest daughter's "first choice" for college. Great school. Great campus. Highly recommend.

Lastly, as a former college and career advisor for a large school district in California, I saw high school students receive very generous scholarships directly from colleges.  Some of these students had great college test scores and excellent grades. And, many were from low income families. Small and mid-sized private colleges provided FREE tuition and room & board for some of these low income students. The tuition cost was $50,000 a year. Yet, these students went to college for FREE. It brought me so much joy to see these students earn FREE college by getting all of their financial need met by private liberal arts colleges.

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Jacob’s Answer

Hi, Kevon,

I do not think limiting your college choices based on tuition is a wise course of action. As Roger pointed out, students can receive scholarships from schools to which they apply based on the merits of their application (i.e. GPA, standardized test scores, extracurricular activities, professional experience) and financial needs.

With that said, I would also recommend aggressively pursuing financial aid. A great first step, if you are willing to take on debt to pay for your education, is applying for Federal Aid through FAFSA's website, which i linked in the "Suggested Next Steps" section. Investigating scholarship opportunities is a good second step. The college or university to which you are applying may have scholarships for which you can apply. Simple google searches for scholarship opportunities is a good starting point (see below). Many schools also offer work-study programs to help defray the cost to attend.

My recommendation is to see what's out there. Explore your options with an unfiltered lens before you start to narrow your search. Tuition costs may end up being a factor that helps trim down the list of universities to which you apply - but don't start off with that limitation. Look at all schools that have programs in which you are interested and see what they can do for you. You never know what opportunities may arise from research and inquisitiveness.

Jacob recommends the following next steps:

FAFSA website: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa
I googled "scholarship opportunities for college freshman tennessee" and this was the first result: https://www.scholarships.com/financial-aid/college-scholarships/scholarships-by-state/tennessee-scholarships/

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Gloria’s Answer

Hi Kevon,

Tuition can be a heavy burden to carry. It is reasonable for you to consider going to a school because it is cheaper for you. I would say that one way you can still go to a university that you want is by doing your core classes at a community college. The general subjects are often classes that you can take anyway to meet a minimum state requirement. I would recommend doing at least some time at a community college. In addition, I would try to find a job where tuition reimbursement is a benefit. This may mean lower pay, but you would get money toward tuition which can give you more options a school that you want to attend.


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Richard’s Answer

You are wise to consider the cost of an education. There are some fields like politics or business that rely on connections you can make during school. In other fields like science, engineering and medicine, the institution on your diploma matters less.

Student debt is a huge burden. If you cannot get financial aid, definitely go to the cheaper school or even start at a community college.