Helpful tips on how to afford college tuition

By Feature Editor: Hannah Snyder3398100832_50850db615

For seniors, second semester means much more than just a new set of courses to take. It also means it is their last semester to complete at Howell High School. After graduation, the next step for so many is college. Either a two-year or four-year, or any type of school after high school can add up and be expensive.

You’re probably wondering – where am I going to get the money to afford college? Although it’s unlikely you’ll be 100% debt free after you get your degree, these tips and suggestions can potentially lower how much you’ll have to pay in the future.

FAFSA

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is one of the main ways students earn financial aid for college. It’s considered the largest source of financial aid for students as it provides an average of $150 billion in grants, loans, and other government funds each year. The process to apply takes about 30 minutes and is completely free. Throughout each year of college, you’ll have to fill out a new FAFSA application which can be stressful, but each year you could potentially earn more money – depending on your personal financial situation. Every student receives a different amount of aid depending on their school, financial needs, and other various qualifications.  Each college in Michigan sets their own deadline for the FAFSA application so keeping up-to-date with your college is important. The application can be completed online at FAFSA.gov.

Local scholarships

Now that you have your FAFSA information completed and submitted your next step is to look into local scholarships available in your town. At HHS, scholarship information can be found on the school website under the guidance tab. There is a list of over 30 scholarships for students to apply for. They each come in a wide variety – from athletic, theater or simply an average GPA. Each scholarship has different requirements, qualifications and due dates.

Ms. Amy Starr, one of the HHS senior guidance counselors, can’t stress enough the importance of looking into the scholarships provided to HHS students. “I highly recommend all students check our website once or twice a week for new local scholarships being added,” says Ms. Starr.

College based scholarships

Maybe you’ve already applied for all the local scholarships you’re eligible for and are still hoping on receiving more financial assistance. If so, most colleges and universities offer scholarship opportunities to their admitted students. To get access to these, check out your future college’s website or contact their admissions office. College scholarships are typically based on high school achievement, ACT/SAT scores, and other academic recognitions. Some scholarships are even able to be renewed each academic year – providing you with a chunk off your tuition cost more than just freshman year.

Retake the ACT

Some colleges and universities offer scholarships and lowered tuition in your acceptance letter based on the information you provided when you applied and your high school transcript. If you know you got a lower grade than you wanted on the ACT test, retake it and send your transcript to your university again. Raising your test scores could potentially earn you money from your future school.

Nobody wants to pay full price for tuition each year, so reaching out and attempting to earn scholarship money is a good option for everyone. It may require a little more work but in the long run, you’ll graduate college with less debt than others who weren’t provided scholarships.

“Students should know as long as they meet the written criteria they should apply because everyone is being offered these potential awards,” says Ms. Starr.