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College 101

The Real Costs of College
Article Type: Quick and Dirty

How do you pay for college? It's the big-money question.

Maybe you're one of the lucky ones with a full ride to your dream school, in which case, keep that secret to yourself when you get on campus, otherwise you might find yourself in a tango with a shiv.

Maybe you'll be attending a school that gifted you with a decent scholarship package. The remaining cost of your tuition is minimal, and your parents have offered to pay the tab.

And maybe you're rowing up Poop Creek without a paddle.

The cost of a college education is one of the biggest factors you have to consider when deciding where to go to school. That's just the way it is. But before you strike your dream school off the list as too expensive, there are a couple of things you need to look into.

1. What is the price tag on your dream school? “Too expensive” is not a number. You need a number if you're gonna play this game.

Got the information? Good.

2. What kind of financial aid can you pull together to cover the cost of going to your dream school?

Now, you may discover, as you wade through all of the financial aid info out there, that your dream school really is too expensive; that you don't want to come out of college owing $60,000 (or more!) in student loans; that there is another school with a sound program in your field of study that will endow you with a decent education and even a scholarship or three.

Of course, you may also find a way to afford the college of your choice. We don't recommend that you sell any organs for the privileged, though.

Whatever post-secondary path you end up walking, financing your education can often require as much work as it takes to get into college in the first place. We can't do the heavy lifting for you – your Internet connection isn't good enough for that – but we can give you some pointers.

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