Paying for College

  • 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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  • The Waiting Game: Student Loans and Your College Degree

    Beth Dumbauld

    You want to go to college. You are ready now. You’re on a budget, yet you are determined to go back and earn your college degree. What do you do? If you are like most adult students, you will find an institution online or nearby that has a degree program you like, for example in engineering or nursing. You apply to that college. You get in. You look at the tuition price, and you think, “Ouch! College is expensive!”  Yet, you are focused on earning your degree. You enroll. What do you do next? You apply for financial aid. You pay your tuition with student loans. Somehow, college doesn’t seem so expensive anymore. With student loans, it’s easy to lose sight of how much you are actually paying in tuition and fees. After ...

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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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  • 5 Strategies to Afford College if You’re Not Rich

    Barry Lenson

    You want to go to college. But how can you come up with $50,000+ to attend a four-year state school, or with $200,000+ to attend a four-year private college? (That’s about what you’ll pay when you add up tuition, housing, student fees, and other costs.) That question isn’t only bothering students. It’s troubling colleges too. To fill their classrooms, they need to attract smart students who mistakenly believe that they lack the funds to attend. As you’ll read in “A Nudge to Poorer Students to Aim High on Colleges,” an article by David Leonhardt in The New York Times on September 25, the College Board is launching a program that will encourage 28,000 high school seniors from lower-income families to apply to high-quality col ...

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