College cost should be on students’ minds

Students must be informed about college cost to avoid financial problems down the road.


Staff Photo

The college acceptance collage is pictured outside of Spring-Ford’s Future Planning Center. The FPC is available to help students make their decisions on their college destinations.

By Neha Chongtham, Editor-In-Chief

For many students, picking a college to attend is one of the biggest choices they will make in their lifetime. Many factors are incorporated into making this significant decision but the biggest and most influential factor is the cost of attending the university.

While a student’s financial issues may mitigate their selection of an university, there still exists many other options to pursuing a certain college of their choice. A popular form of financial aid that is used by students is Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Spring-Ford’s Future Planning Center (FPC) highly recommends almost all graduating students apply for FAFSA. Essentially, the FAFSA is a form that undergraduate and graduate students can fill out to determine their eligibility for financial aid.

The FAFSA allows students to qualify for Stafford Loans and “free-money” such as the Pell Grant or FSEOG grant in their financial packet of assistance from the college.

“The FAFSA determines your Expected Family Contribution (EFC),” said Spring-Ford College Career Counselor Tricia Falco. “Each college you apply to receives the EFC and they look at how much institutional money you could be eligible for.”

Another form that is commonly used is College Scholarship Service (CSS) that was initiated by College Board. CSS is a much more thorough process than FAFSA but it still provides sufficient financial aid for students. Many colleges, such as Drexel University, suggest that CSS be filled out for further aid. In some instances, universities will also provide grants if a student shows a significant need for aid and has been academically successful. Furthermore, colleges may also give scholarships that are solely based on academics and not need-based.

Student loans are somewhat daunting for future college students but it is crucial that this option be kept open. Many students in college have student loans and many contemplate about taking out loans to pay for their education. It is a very common step that many students will make and thus, a student is never alone in making this decision. One of the first steps in taking out a student loan is to apply for FAFSA. Once the application is filled up and sent to the university, the university can then provide a financial aid package that depicts a student loan plan for the next four years.

Many college students will be employed in order to pay off their student loans and through networking with their college they may be able to find a job to do so.

The amount of loans students walk away from college could be daunting.

According to a report in Wall Street Journal, the average student in the Class of 2016 walked away from college with $37,172 in student loan debt and seven in 10 borrowed for their educations.

Falco says that student loan debt can be a “huge problem.”

Students may need to pay off their loans for an extensive time based on the college they attended, the amount of schooling received, and the salary from the job. Debt is something that restricts many individuals from taking opportunities, moving to new places, and it can even cause conflict in marriages.

Students should be careful when deciding how to pay for college and they should act accordingly to future plans.

“(Student loan debt) does follow you and can limit the way you want to live after college,” Falco said. “Students should understand the terms of the loan and understand that loans will add up in four years.”

What can a student do right now?

For freshmans and sophomores, it is suggested that they maintain a strong focus on their academics and strengthen their GPA. Being efficient outside of the academics is equally important: join clubs, take leadership positions, and volunteer. Find a certain passion that drives you during your academic career in high school and assert this passion when applying to college in the future.

As for juniors, maintaining grades and GPA is essential as colleges will view this year as one of the most important in your high school years; continue to be assertive outside of the classroom, as well. In addition, the SAT I and ACT are important to excel in as colleges will use this as one of the determining factors in their admissions.

Spring-Ford provides SAT boot camps and the FPC has other resources available to students; it is also important to note that SAT II (subject tests) may also be required or highly recommended by certain colleges. Maintaining grades, GPA, extracurriculars, and achieving excellent test grades allows for a student to be highly considered for scholarships by colleges (along with financial aid).

As for seniors, it is imperative that you seek help, if needed, to plan out your future. It is also necessary for seniors to speak with their guardians to confirm their financial situation so that there is clarity. The FPC is an excellent resource for questions about financial aid and help for finding a direction.

“When students are picking between colleges, they definitely should consider the cost of each school to be a large factor in their choice,” said Molly Sodicoff, a Spring-Ford senior. “I know for me personally I plan on going on to get my masters after I get a bachelor’s degree so I need to make sure I pick a school that will allow me to financially continue my education. Additionally, I think it’s important for students to think into the future a bit to make sure the jobs that they’re pursuing will allow them to pay off their debt.”

Financing for college is a major step in a student’s life and hence, it is crucial that students seek help when needed. There exists numerous resources and opportunities for financial aid but there must be an understanding of such options. Students who keep an open mind to their choices and who educate themselves about the different paths can efficiently select a college. Thus, they are ready to begin their new journey and continue their passion for learning.