College Costs

  • What to Do When Financial Aid Fails You Before Finishing Your Degree

    Beth Dumbauld

    If you are like most college students, there’s a good chance you are a “non-traditional” student. Likewise, your college degree path is probably also non-traditional. Unfortunately, a zigzagging degree path can greatly complicate an already complicated financial endeavor: financing your college education. According to the US Department of Education, 73% of college students are considered to have one or more non-traditional student characteristic. These characteristic can be as varied as delaying enrollment in college, going to school part-time, accumulating credits from a variety of different academic and professional programs, having a family and going to college, changing majors and extending one’s time at college, changing col ...

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  • Before You Take Out Student Loans, Reduce Your Overall Cost of College

    Beth Dumbauld

    Think student loans can help you afford college? Think again. It’s a mistake to confuse access to financial tools, including student loans, with affordability. What is a financial tool? A student loan is a financial tool. A credit card is a financial tool. A check is a financial tool. Cash is a financial tool as well. Financial tools, as necessary as they are, are limited in purpose: A financial tool allows you to pay your college expenses. A financial tool can not change the overall cost of earning your college degree. Affordability (your overall cost of college) and your ability to graduate from college with a degree are far more in sync than your ability to take out student loans and your ability to graduate from coll ...

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  • How to Save Lots of Money when Picking a College Major

    Barry Lenson

    According to “Unexpected ways to save for college,” a video on, one of the best ways to save money on college is to know your major before you enroll in college and start paying for courses. That makes sense. Every three-credit college course you take in a regular college could cost you more than $1,200 today. So if you have to take three or four courses before you can decide on your major, you’re throwing away a lot of money. And the costs can run even higher if you invest a year or more in one field and then decide to change your major. How Online Courses Cut the Cost of Picking a College Major If you’re not sure what your college major will be, you can save a lot of money by taking exploratory courses online ...

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  • How Much Will Your Student Loan Really Cost You?

    Barry Lenson

    You walk into your college’s financial aid office and fill out paperwork to borrow $14,000 at a 6% interest rate that you promise to repay over 10 years. The financial aid officer who helps you fill out the paperwork calculates that when you start to repay, you will write a monthly check for $155.40. You leave the financial aid office feeling pretty good. You can handle that monthly payment easily, so why worry? Maybe you shouldn’t feel so great, because you just signed up to pay $4,651.60 in interest on that loan. That’s another way of saying that you borrowed $14,000, but will need to pay back a total of $18,651.60. Bet you’re not feeling so good now. New StraighterLine Video Helps You Calculate the Real Cost of Borrowing ...

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  • How Do You Know if You Can Afford Your College Degree?

    Beth Dumbauld

    It can be a challenge to know if the college where you plan on earning your degree is truly affordable. Let's face it, we are all persuadable. We don't always make decisions that are in our best interest. And when it comes time to go back to college and earn a degree, we can be overly influenced by the slick images of students happily holding their diplomas. We'd be far better served if those images came with disclaimers, such as "I took out $26,000 in student loans to earn this college degree," or "I took out $50,000 in loans," or in the case of a financially-savvy student "I didn't take out student; I took StraighterLine online courses." Yes, there is a posted sticker price to attend college, but what you actually pay for college, and ...

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