How Middle Class Families Can Still Afford College

Dear College Made Simple Reader,

During 2010-11 school year, tuition shot up around 8% at public colleges and universities and 4.5% at private institutions, according to the College Board.

And yet Sallie Mae, a leading student loan provider, stated that over that same time period families reported paying 9% less to send their student to school.

How’s that math work out?

Well, believe it or not, despite the rising tide of tuition costs in the U.S. there are still ways to cut your college costs considerably.  You just have to be resourceful – and that’s what today’s article is about.

– Scott

How Middle Class Families Can Still Afford College

You see, in direct opposition to the downturn of the American economy (sluggish real estate, high unemployment, rising food costs etc), more families than ever are sending their kids off to college.  One of the main reasons is because they believe higher education to be the only effective defense against a questionable future economic climate.

And that means, even with all those economic factors working against them, families are being forced to find ways to afford and in many cases, pay LESS than they used to for college.

Here’s how many are doing it…

  • Simple spending cuts.   According to Sallie Mae, 70% of families cut personal expenses and that includes those with household incomes of $100,000 or more.
  • Cheaper schools.  Families are looking to squeeze every bit of value out of colleges now.  Too high a price tag means they’ll simply move on to look for a better deal.  Bargain shoppers abound.
  • Financial aid.  Sallie Mae reports that the number of upper and middle class families receiving college grants increased from 30% to 46%.  Since most wealthier families won’t qualify for federal aid, that means more colleges are giving out more institutional aid.  Combine that with the fact that there’s more need-based aid available than ever before and you can understand the rising numbers.
  • Scholarships.  There are also more merit-based grants and scholarships out there than ever.   And with so many of them focused on specific skills and areas of study and interest, it’s become easier for families to target those with the best opportunity for a win.
  • Tax Advantages.  The American Opportunity tax credit can reduce your federal tax bill by $2,500 for each qualifying student a family has.  It’s well worth your time to look into it.
  • Finally, check out these statistics from a recent Fidelity Investments survey on strategies being employed by families over the last 5 years to make college more affordable…
 

2007

2011

Student lives at home and commutes

38%

48%

Student graduates in fewer semesters

13%

28%

Student works part time

49%

59%

Students helps pay for college

36%

46%

Non-working spouse returns to work

11%

18%

Working parent gets second job

11%

17%

 

Financial Aid Information

So as you can see, some belt tightening, smart shopping and aggressive pursuits of both financial aid and scholarships can really make a difference for families looking for ways to absorb the big tuition bills that come with a college education these days.

It can be a lot of work to ensure you’re going about all of these things the right way and that’s why I always recommend speaking with a certified college planner when preparing to send a student to school.

To Your Family’s Successful College Search,

Scott Weingold

Co-Founder, College Planning Network, LLC

College Made Simple – The Free Educational Resource of the College Planning Network, LLC

Related Articles:

5 Ways to Pay for College in Tough Times

How to Make College Cheaper: Part 2 – Strategies

College Tuition Discounts

5 Ways to Save on Your Child’s College Education

 

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Editor's Note: Scott Weingold has been ranked the #1 “College Financial Aid Expert Worth Knowing About” in the entire country by CollegeStats.org.  He has co-authored the book, “The Real Secret To Paying For College. The Insider’s Guide To Sending Your Child To College – Without Spending Your Life’s Savings.” Scott also publishes a popular free online newsletter, “College Funding Made Simple" which reveals insider’s tips, methods, and strategies for beating the high cost of college.

Scott is the co-founder and a principal of the widely renown College Planning Network, LLC – the nation’s largest and most reputable college admissions and financial aid planning firm. CPN is a proud member of the Better Business Bureau, the National Association of College Funding Advisors, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

Scott, along with his college funding advisory team, helps thousands of families throughout the country with their college planning needs and offers a series of free educational webinars and workshops on “How To Pay For College Without Going Broke In The Process!” He's been featured or mentioned in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Yahoo News, TheStreet.com, Voice America with Ron Adams, Crains Cleveland Business, and on Cleveland Connection with James McIntyre.  Scott has published numerous articles and is a professional speaker who has addressed thousands of audiences online and offline throughout the United States.  His actionable insights and candid, open approach have earned him & his team numerous media interviews, citations, and speaking opportunities, and his free online video workshop is one of the Internet’s most widely viewed pieces in the college funding space.