How to Manage College Costs, Part 2                                            by Patti Brugman

By Patti Brugman

    Last week I talked about ways to pay for college.  In short they were:  Save, Pay as you go, Get a loan, Earn a scholarship or grant.  These are all viable plans if you are wealthy enough and save early on, or poor enough to qualify for free or low cost money.  For those who are working hard, but are neither rich nor poor, there are other ways to manage the costs.

    Two of our clients are immigrant students who are exactly these kinds of students.  As sisters, their stories naturally follow the same path. The older girl, Becky, just graduated from UC Berkeley and the younger sister, May, will be starting UCLA in the fall. While the UC system has always offered the best education at the best price, things have been changing.  We know that tuition costs have risen significantly and that the state cannot offer the subsidies it once could.  As a result, there is a rise in out-of-state student attendance in order to subsidize the whole system. 

    What this means for the rising high school senior is that 1) the UC schools are becoming more competitive for California students, and 2) the UC schools now cost more for those California students who are accepted.

    With the rates of acceptances going down, it behooves students to apply to private colleges, especially those that might offer financial aid, merit scholarships, and 4-year graduation guarantees.  In some cases, those three factors might lower the cost of a private school down to the rate of a UC.  Add in the personalized education of a private school, the possibility of internships, and career placement and the total value begins to soar.

    But back to the story of Becky and May.  Even though both girls will be graduating with a UC diploma, neither will have started there.  Becky led the way with two excellent years at PCC under the TAG program, Transfer Admission Guarantee.  She did well in high school and fabulously well at PCC, so she was guaranteed a UC admission.  Because she waited to take her SAT scores, they were very high which resulted in the best of the UC admissions.  She does admit that the transition from junior college to the number one public school in the country was a bit stressful.  “But after one semester I caught on to the pace of things,” she says.  Now as a graduate, she will work as a paid intern USC for one year and apply for graduate school.

    May followed in her sister’s footsteps with two excellent years at PCC and then a transfer to UCLA where she hopes to major in electrical engineering.  She opted to stay close to home even though she intends to live on campus.

    By using the system as it was intended, these girls are getting top-notch educations for half the cost.  They both received modest financial aid packages that included both loans and scholarships.  Becky says that her total loan after graduation is $23k.  Not bad considering the national average of over $40k!

    So for the families that don’t qualify for free money and haven’t saved all the money that it takes to attend a lovely private school for four years, consider taking the least expensive road to getting the best possible education.  It really does work!


All the best from Perfectfitcollege.Net  7/12