Ann Arbor, Mich. — Oct. 21, 2014 — Conversations regarding colleges and college admissions often lead to the topic of the massive debt that accompanies college diplomas today. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. Financial advisor Timothy C. Parros, CCPS, who is also the founder of Parros College Planning, an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based company providing resources in the college admissions process, says there are 5 ways prospective college students and their parents can avoid the accumulation of debt:
1. Choose the right school. Changing majors and transferring schools is expensive both in terms of credits and lost time. However, many college students change their major in college three or more times. One often hears of a student transferring to a new school because the initial college chosen didn’t offer the degree program the student decided to pursue. Students who are not absolutely certain of a major should consider the benefits of attending a university that offers a wide range of programs without hyper competitive admissions hurdles. Students can also begin at a community college, where credit hours cost much less than a university, and then transfer during their second or third year of college.
2. Fill out the FAFSA regardless of income level – and fill it out early! Because there are other forms of monetary assistance available beyond governmental loans and grants, it is in the best interest of all college bound students and their parents to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. FAFSA forms can be completed as early as January 1 of the student’s senior year. The earlier the FAFSA is completed the better, because most scholarships are given out on a first come basis. Students seeking scholarships late in the game may find the monies have already been allocated to students who acted January 1.
3. Consider attending a private university. Think private schools are more expensive? Not necessarily. Private schools have a higher percentage of students who graduate in four years; public universities, on average, graduate students in five to six years according to recent Department of Education reports. So even though the initial sticker price may seem higher at a private university, it may be less expensive in the long run.
4. Get into scholarship mode early. Most people don’t realize how much scholarship money is available through online searches. ‘Scholarship surfing’ may actually be a better use of a teen’s time than working a minimum wage job. For example, a teen searching online for a few hours may be able to apply for and ultimately nab a $1,500 scholarship, a sum that generally takes a teen a month or more to earn in the summer.
5. It’s all about the numbers. Most people understand the higher a student’s GPA, the more likely that student will get into a “good” school. However, combine a high GPA with a high ACT or SAT score and the window of possibility for merit-based aid increases dramatically. A composite score of 30 on the ACT continues to be the “sweet spot” for admission and financial aid – especially at high quality but non-elite schools.
About Parros College Planning
Parros College Planning is an Ann Arbor, Mich. based company focused on helping prospective college students get into the college of their choice. Specific services in the step by step Parros process include college matching analysis, ACT/SAT prep, essay critiques and strategies for helping families lower tuition costs by navigating financial aid, scholarships and grant options. Parros College Planning is led by founder Timothy Parros, CCPS, who is a member of the National Institute of Certified College Planners, Higher Education Consultants Association and the National Association for College Admission Counseling. Learn more about Parros College Planning here and follow the company on Twitter @THECOLLEGEPRO.