3 Tips That Could Save You Thousands On College

1. Make sure your child picks the right fit (both college and major/minor!)

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, only 41% of students graduate college within 4 years. With each additional semester, tens of thousands of dollars add up. According to data from the University of Texas, those who graduate in 6 years instead of 4 spend 40% more than those who graduate in 4 years.

What causes this?

Multiple things can cause this, but a few of the most common reasons are changing majors, transferring, or taking unnecessary courses.

Why is prolonged graduation common?

Many times students choose a college that they know little about. Their entire decision may be made based on a one-time visit or virtual tour. Many students forego the time consuming process of researching important information, such as:

  • The program of studies accompanying the major the student chooses.
  • Prospective job or career paths possible after graduating with that major.
  • Will there be a demand for __________ majors in _______ field? Is a Bachelor’s degree actually sufficient to become a_____________?
  • What is the life of a __________ like on a day to day basis (besides what is portrayed on TV)?
  • What extracurricular involvement is needed to obtain a job in ________ field?
  • Opportunities to intern or research (perceived opportunities vs actual opportunities).
  • Services offered by the University to aid students in their academic success.
  • Social life on that campus
    • Greek life
    • Clubs and Activities
    • City vs. Rural vs. Suburban

2. Sticker price ≠ Actual price

Most people see the price for a semester on a college website or through Googling “What is the cost of _________ at_______ University”. The problem with this is that many schools have an extremely large sticker price (perhaps somewhere in the $52,000 per year range), while other schools have a seemingly much more manageable sticker price (perhaps around $25,000 per year). 

However, based on the different need-based grants, academic and athletic scholarships, and financial aid, a university with that sticker price that makes you cringe could actually be less expensive than that university with a lower advertised cost.

But how would I know which colleges give more money and how much?

This is a tricky question and depends on schools of interest, program, academics, and athletics. Certain schools can give a lot of money in both athletic and academic scholarships, while others only give academic scholarships. 

Different schools offer vastly different amounts of need based aid and can offer vastly different amounts when it comes to academic scholarships! Certain schools are like early 2000’s Oprah: “You get thousands! You get thousands! You get thousands!” Other schools resonate more with Scrooge McDuck, giving out very minimal aid to students.

To make matters more complicated, every school gives a wide range of aid to its students, meaning Student A could receive over $20,000 in scholarships from School X while Student B might only receive $5,000 from the same school. However, at a different school, not only could the total amount given change, but which student receives more could be completely flipped. For example, at School Y, Student A might only receive $4,000 in aid while Student B receives $10,000!

If this sounds complicated, that's because it is. Financial aid is determined on a case-by-case basis, and most parents do not have the time to run through the plethora of financial scenarios for each and every school their child is looking at. There is a potential solution, but we’ll get to that later.

3. Invest in scholarships, not in a 529!

If your child was told, “you can work for one hour a week for 4-6 weeks and you’ll get paid $10,000”, I would almost guarantee they would say yes! Unfortunately, the idea of scholarships is a bit more abstract than the above scenario so students have difficulty seeing the benefit of putting in the time and effort to score the highest score they can. This means most students are leaving thousands of dollars on the table when it comes to scholarships.

Why is this?

ACT/SAT scores are tied to scholarship money. In many cases, a 2-point jump on the ACT paired with a 0.2 increase in GPA could mean the difference between receiving $10,000 in scholarships and $25,000 in scholarships.

How do I get my child to improve his/her ACT/SAT score?

For the vast majority of students, simply buying an ACT or SAT practice book has little effect. In many cases these books have great practice problems and somewhat adequate explanations of the answers (as long as the student has a baseline understanding of the rules and methods behind solving said problem, which many students do not), but lack in providing direction.

These books do not analyze what types of problems your child is having difficulty with, and they most certainly cannot tell your child, “hey, when you see a problem like this, you want to remember to _____” or,  “I see you’ve been struggling with this one trig concept, let me run through how to solve those types of problems really quick and give you guided practice”.

To have the greatest improvement, most students need individualized tutoring, with someone who has command of the subject matter along with experience preparing students for these high stakes exams.

What does this all mean?

If you are like most parents, carefully balancing the demands of work with the countless number of parental responsibilities while attempting to maintain a semblance of a life of your own, you most likely do not want (or even have time) to take on the role of personal guidance counselor/college researcher/tutor. If this sounds like you, there is a solution!

The Kelly Maclean Achievement Center offers all of these services and more:

  • College Selection Process (choosing a college, a major, a career etc.)
  • Application assistance
  • Admissions Essay Writing
  • Financial Aid Filing
  • Individualized College cost analysis
  • ACT/SAT Test Prep
  • AP Test Prep
  • Scholarship Application assistance
  • Subject specific tutoring (to increase/ maintain a high GPA)
  • Writing Workshops
  • Passion Projects

Want to learn how we can help your child? Schedule a FREE 15-minute call today!


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