Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Paying for college in a recession

Boyce Watkins
by Kim Clark

Although I've been writing for years about financing college, I've never before received so many letters like this one from Philip I., who is a mortgage consultant in New England: "I am panicked. My son is a junior in high school. Any ideas would be helpful." Many parents are reeling from big financial losses at the same time they are shocked by college price tags, confused by all the nitpicky rules, and scared that they'll ruin their children's future if they can't figure out some way to get them through college.

Luckily, we've put together advice from financial aid experts—including lots of parents who managed to pay tuition without going bankrupt. A basic primer to financial aid can be found here.

While every student and family is unique, there are four principles that apply to everybody:
1. Grades matter more than ever. The better the student, the more college options the student will have and the more likely it is the student will receive scholarships or win admission to a low-cost school. Students in states such as Georgia, Tennessee, New Mexico, and Florida, with grade-based scholarships, particularly stand to benefit. Parents wanting to motivate their sophomores and juniors can direct them to college websites such as this one, this one, or here. Each of these sites clearly shows the reality that the better the grades and test scores, the bigger the scholarship. Spend a few extra hours studying, bring your grade point average up a point or two, and it could pay off in tens of thousands of dollars.

Creative Ways to pay for college

by Boyce Watkins