Wednesday Weekly Reader: The Cost of College & Financial Aid Edition

News from the college search / admissions / finance front. This is turning out to be an all financial aid week at Dr. StrangeCollege, and there are plenty of recent stories to choose from.

1.  Start with an excellent guest article written by Paul Wrubel, posted at The College Puzzle:  College Costs: It’s More Than The Dollars Spent. Mr. Wrubel encourages students and parents to look beyond the cost of four years of college and the 30% cost increase over the past five years to consider how many years it will take to earn a BA. The current average:  6.2 years at a public college, 5.3 at a private college.

Tolerance for a six-year college experience is in part the result of a faulty and incomplete accounting of costs.  When projecting the costs of college, add to the cost mix not just the cash outlay of another year or two but include “opportunity costs” as well.  Opportunity costs refer to the income the student could have been earning as a college graduate if he or she were not languishing an extra year or two at college.  Using this math, the cost of year five or six dramatically escalates.  Thus, as you look into various colleges, it makes sense to ask each college, “What percentage of the students graduate in FOUR years?”  If they respond by saying they don’t know, they do know but they just prefer not to tell you.

'92 Theater on the campus of Wesleyan University

Wesleyan University. Image via Wikipedia

2.  At the Chronicle of Higher Education‘s Head Count blog, Beckie Supiano is following the experiences of first-year college financial aid advisor, John Gudvangen, at Wesleyan University. See Counseling Parents, With Some Help From a New Calculator.

As the financial-aid director, Mr. Gudvangen is responsible for alleviating the part of that worry that has to do with paying tuition. “If you don’t even make as much in a year as we charge, it can be a scary proposition,” he says. “Partly what we’re there for, is to be calm, and thoughtful, and educational, to say we’re all about making a Wesleyan education affordable to your child, if in fact you demonstrate need.”

When prospective students visit campus, Mr. Gudvangen has found that most of the questions about paying the bill come from parents, since they’re the ones who understand the family’s financial position. “This is an odd time in families’ lives,” he says. “At some point, students probably need to know these things, but they probably don’t as high-school seniors.”

Sample Gates, Indiana University Bloomington, USA

Indiana University. Image via Wikipedia

3.  Today’s Campus Overload, Jenna Johnson’s blog at the Washington Post, reported today that Indiana University is hoping to offer a sale on summer school courses: Indiana University might discount summer tuition

Indiana University leaders want to cut the price of summer courses on all seven campuses starting next year. In-state undergraduates would receive a 25 percent discount, and out-of-state students would have the equivalent dollar figure deducted from their bill. The plan, which was announced at a news conference Monday, still needs approval by the board of trustees later this week.

At IU’s regional campuses, students taking a full load of summer classes could save more than $700 a year. Students in Bloomington and Indianapolis could save more than $1,000. IU President Michael A. McRobbie said in a statement that the discount will help students stay on track for graduation or earn their degree in less than four years.

“I am confident this will help us graduate more students in less time and allow our graduates to leave IU with less debt as they start their careers,”he said.

4.  Finally, my nomination for the wildest and weirdest college financial aid analogy, this from cheapscholar.org:  The Top Ten Ways A FAFSA Is Like A Colonoscopy.

Number 8 — Timing is important. A FAFSA should be filed after January 1 and before the deadline posted by the college or university. Missing this window may mean missing an opportunity for college funding or even missing out on college altogether. A recent study[i] recommends that colonoscopies be done at age 45 for men and 50 for women unless risk factors are present that would encourage earlier testing. Having one too late may mean missing out on more than college.

Number 7 — You should do it even if you “know” you won’t find anything. With the FAFSA, many people “know” they won’t qualify for financial aid, but I guarantee programs exist that provide scholarships or grants to FAFSA filers regardless of the results. Not everyone qualifies, but if you don’t file a FAFSA, you certainly won’t. With the colonoscopy, people who live right, eat right, and exercise right still need to have one. Hopefully, the FAFSA process finds something for you and the colonoscopy doesn’t.

What have you been reading? Please tell me about it, below, in comments.

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1 Comment

Filed under Paying for College

One response to “Wednesday Weekly Reader: The Cost of College & Financial Aid Edition

  1. Pingback: Wednesday Weekly Reader: 13 Key Items to Know About Financial Aid. | Dr. StrangeCollege or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Journey

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