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If you have your heart set on earning a degree from a college with a high price tag, there may be ways to make your education more affordable than you might think. By selecting a school that offers a great value and meets students’ financial needs, you can earn a degree without drowning in student loan debt – even from a highly-ranked, and high-priced, degree program.
Choose a Best Value School
Every year, U.S. News & World Report publishes a ranking of the best values in education. You might be surprised to find private institutions and Ivy League universities topping the list. After all, it’s not unusual for these schools to charge $40,000 to $50,000 for a single year of tuition –not counting room, board or textbooks.
These schools make the best values list even with tuition rates that are higher than the median annual income for American workers because they offer substantial discounts. The $43,450 tuition rate for the number-one ranked school, Princeton University, drops to just $16,868 when you factor in the average need-based financial aid package of grants and scholarships. Harvard University’s $45,278 price tag becomes just $17,820. Yale’s $47,600 tuition rate decreases to $18,260.
U.S. News & World Report also considers the percentage of students who receive financial aid when it compiles its best value schools list. At many of these degree programs, 40 to 60 percent of all students receive at least some financial aid from the college.
Find Out If Your Degree Program Meets Students’ Financial Needs
Conventional wisdom claims that public schools are more affordable than private ones. However, that’s comparing only the total cost of the education – the “sticker price” – rather than what students actually pay to attend.
Today, many private schools offer generous financial aid packages to attract the best and brightest students, regardless of their financial resources. Some private colleges have made a commitment to meeting 100 percent of demonstrated financial need for every single student admitted into the degree program. Often, more than half of all students receive some financial aid directly from the school, with awards totaling tens of thousands of dollars per year.
If you’re concerned about being saddled with huge student loans after graduation, you might be worrying unnecessarily. These schools don’t just load their students up with loans. In fact, some of the top liberal arts schools in America have embraced no-loan financial aid policies. They fulfill their commitment to meeting student need entirely with need-based grants and scholarships. Students can earn their degree from a school that costs $50,000 a year to attend and still potentially graduate debt-free.
Scholarships, Grants and Loans
Suppose you choose a best value school that drops your cost of attendance from a high $45,000 tuition rate to a more reasonable $20,000 price. That discounted cost is still significant. How can you afford to pay?
Even when you attend a private school, you may still be eligible for federal financial aid in the form of grants and federally funded student loans. In some states, you might also be eligible for state grants.
You should be aware, though, that even federal loans need to be paid back with interest, costing you more money in the long run. It’s a good idea to look for merit-based scholarships from external organizations as well as from your school to lessen the financial burden.
Just because a degree program has a high tuition cost doesn’t mean it’s out of reach, if you choose the right college and work hard to get scholarships.