How to choose a college you can afford

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – College campuses are busy right now, not just with current students, but with prospective students as well! College can be very expensive and a difficult decision to make.

Whenever we talk about choosing where to go for higher education, we’re usually talking about a lot of money. Now, the experts are helping us figure out exactly what you can afford. Going to college is a privilege most students don’t take lightly.

“Both of my parents, they didn’t get to go to college and they really wanted me to get that education but money was tight,” said Amanda Evans.

Quinnipiac University’s Amanda Evans knows all about it. She knows she’ll be graduating with debt like most students do but she takes comfort in knowing she’s saving money where she can.

“It was based mostly on scholarships, which school would give me the most money and also what kind of grants they can offer me,” Evans said.

Quinnipiac’s director of financial aid, Dominic Yoia, says to start, fill out the FAFSA form first and see what you can get in federal aid. Take a moment to do your homework before you start taking out private loans.

“If they just borrow the federal loans that offered, typically, they’re going to leave college with about $27,000 in debt which is a very comfortable payment. That’s going to be about a $250-$270 dollar payment a month. Once they start acquiring private loans, that’s when they start to ratchet up their debt. We want them to be very careful about that,” Yoia said.

Next, research local scholarships. Find out what’s available through your high school and the school of choice. Then look to factor in other ways to offset the costs, Evans for example is a work-study student.

“Students can take on leadership roles, they can serve as an RA, they can serve in student, they can manage the student newspaper, government, radio station or magazine,” Yoia said.

Yoia says it should be a red flag if you’re closing in on 6 figures in debt for a four-year college. The national average is $30,000. While it’s important to choose a school that fits your educational needs – you don’t want to be saddled with debt you can’t afford when you graduate. Parents, it’s just as important you do what works for you as well. If you’ll be helping out with college, you want to determine what you can afford so you don’t spend all the education funds allotted on the first kid.

This story was originally published by WTNH, a Nexstar contributing station.

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