For one of my graduate classes, I ran across an article titled “Can We Afford This College?” by Penelope Wang in Money magazine, April 2010

It’s that time of year that financial aid officers and applications start rolling in. It is your job now to ensure that you have all the necessary documentation to apply for financial aid and get the most reward available to you, based on your financial need.

Every state has a date…check it out

As the aid award letters arrive this month, get ready for some tough decisions and serious planning.

This is it…

Now is about the time where you should be receiving those acceptance letters…(and yes, not-accepted too). These letters are accompanied with much excitement, anxiety, and tough questions. Namely…how will we ever pull this off to pay for college?

Suddenly due to so much in our own lives financially, the restrictions and value of homes/cars that have been lost, we are suddenly faced with tens of thousands of dollars in potential college cost. Most of this will end up coming from student loans.

Please accept that.It’s a fact of life.

However as you start to focus more on HOW you will pay for college, here are a few tips that I found interesting from this MONEY article:

Figure out your own contribution:

Hopefully as you compare the cost of the top choice college, and the scholarships and awards you received the difference is quite minimal. But, if it isn’t , do you have a plan? Do you have the income set aside? Be honest and open with each other regarding this. If that top choice college is too expensive, it is just too expensive. A quality education is given pretty much by most institutions, so maybe you go to a second best school of choice if it means not having such a financial strain.

You will have to take out loans, chances are…given the financial restraint from federal and state governments, financial assistance will surely not grow.  So, if you don’t have the available money to supplement the cost of college after free federal assistance and scholarships, than loans are the final resort.

I took out thousands of dollars in student loans and it didn’t put me into debtors prison for my life. I was okay with it and they were easy to work with.

What is the loan debt…

Students can borrow from $5,500 to $7,500 a year in federal Stafford loans, and parents can cover the rest with PLUS loans. But it’s easy for students to take out a little extra money in loans to pay for other collegiate expenses. So watch out!!

Maximize your offer…

Make sure you are utilizing every opportunity available to you to pay for college. If there is still a gap in paying for college, check with your school’s financial aid officer to take a second look at the application and the awards available and given.

Keith Lipke

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Keith Lipke is a careers and college recruiter, coach, mentor and blogger at The Career Closet. His passion is to educate, inspire, and give hope to young people who need it upon their search for the right career and college.