Most people take college tuition cost into consideration before applying. While this alone is not a bad thing, it is unfortunate when a university’s sticker price stops someone from even applying. It is important to know the facts before making such an serious decision.
First Common Misconception: “I can’t afford to attend the best colleges”
This is an outdated idea that today is simply untrue. Increases in financial aid over the last few decades have been gigantic, and you will likely find that the true cost of a first-tier college is much lower than you would expect. All Ivy-League schools as well as many other top universities now meet 100% of a student’s financial need. This means that the colleges determine how much you can reasonably afford, and they cover the rest of the costs with financial aid. For low- and middle-income students, this makes even the most expensive universities well within the affordable range. Some colleges meet even more than 100% of a student’s need. For example, Harvard and Stanford allow students whose families earn less than $60,000 per year to attend free-of-charge. Even if you think a school will be too expensive for you to afford, this should not prevent you from applying. You might be surprised at the financial aid offer you receive.
Second Common Misconception: Admissions discriminate against lower-income students
Sure they have excellent financial aid policies for low-income students, but that’s because they don’t let any of them in, right? This assumption is simply incorrect. In many cases the admissions office is completely unaware of a student’s ability to pay; these matters are left to the financial aid office, assuming an applicant is admitted. It is true that low-income students are drastically underrepresented at the country’s best colleges, but this is simply because the schools aren’t receiving enough applications from these students. One of the primary reasons for these new financial programs is to increase economic diversity among enrolled students. Colleges really do want to attract low- and middle-income students, so if you are interested in attending the nation’s best colleges, you should certainly apply.
Third Common Misconception: “If I Attend a Local College I Will Get a Full Ride”
Unless you are an amazing athlete, this is likely not true. Full-ride academic scholarships are incredible rare, despite what many people believe. Limiting yourself to local, in-state universities in the hope of obtaining a full-ride scholarship is a big mistake. You will likely be disappointed to find that you will still be paying $10 to $15 thousand dollars per year for tuition, books, room and board. Don’t believe everything you hear; full-ride scholarships are extremely difficult to come by.
If you have the desire to attend and the grades to get in, a large sticker price should not stop you from applying to a top university. For me, and Ivy-League education is less expensive than one at my local state university. By thoroughly researching all the schools in which you are interested, you may open the door to an amazing opportunity you would have otherwise overlooked.
I hope this information has been helpful, and good luck searching for your college!