Be Smart in your Educational Choices

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EWS College Newsletter
September 2015

You have already found a university that you love and you just cannot wait to get enrolled and start your life as a part of the place.  But in your rush to attending the school that you like, were you really able to carry out due diligence on your decision making?

While you might be aware of all the available campus amenities, degree options, as well as job placement assistance, do you also know if you can afford being in that school?  Is your budget enough for your expenses during your entire stay there to complete the program or degree that you have chosen, and not only for one semester or one year?

Below are several suggestions to help you choose a university that you can easily afford.

  • Calculate Your Education’s Actual Cost
    To know if your chosen university is something that you can afford, you should start by calculating your education’s actual cost.  Try to add up in advance all the expenses that you will have, like tuition, school, fees, living expenses and books before you factor in all the available financial aid - like grants, scholarship, student loans and work-study.  By doing so, you can have a “ballpark” estimate of your expenses in order for you to get a truer and more accurate cost.  Of course, you will not really be able to know the exact cost that you will spend out of your pocket until you have been finally admitted to the university and you receive the award letter for the financial aid that you will get but still, calculating the cost can give you a good enough rough estimate.
     
  • "Safety" School Vs. "Reach" School
    The majority of students do not completely understand the concept of a “safety” school versus “reach” school as far as the academic criteria is concerned.  You choose your favorite universities and then you hope that you will get in.  However, it is also important that you consider applying to backup schools in case you have not been accepted to the school of your first choice.  You might want to apply in the same way to schools, financially speaking.  A backup plan should be ready if you have been admitted to your favorite school but you cannot afford it or you do not like acquiring a lot of debts as needed, depending on the financial aid package offered by the school.

When you plan ahead and you pick a university that you will be able to afford, there is a higher chance that you will be able to successfully complete the degree or program in order for you to see the perfect return on your investment.  Take note that your expenses for your education are a great investment that you will make for yourself as well as your ability of earning much more in the near future, so make sure that you invest wisely!

We are in the business of helping families through the major life transition of sending their children to college.  For many, it will be the most expensive time of their lives and, if not handled properly, could cost them their retirement.  If you or someone you know needs the help and guidance of a trained financial professional, don’t hesitate to contact me.   Remember, you shouldn’t have to choose between your child’s college and your retirement.