Paying (Through the nose?) for an Education

After the decision that the target career requires a higher degree or training, there is the challenge of paying for it. Tuition might be the largest part of the cost of an education, but there are companion costs to consider also:

  • books
  • housing
  • food
  • toiletries
  • personal upkeep (like, haircuts and clothing)
  • childcare
  • lab and activity fees
  • transportation (bus fares, train passes, gasoline…)
  • miscellaneous  fees (on-campus parking permits, ID badges)

…And this is by no means an exhaustive list. There are also costs associated with whether or not the intended school is in the state of residence or outside the state of residence. Some schools, intending to keep the state’s intellectual talent potential  from leaking out reward in-state resident students with lower tuition and fees.

Currently, there is a federal mandate that an education be within reach of all who want one. For many families who happen not to be financially well placed, this opportunity means picking through the smogasboard of offerings on the table including grants in aid,scholarships, and loans. Some are privately funded and others are federally and state funded. The best advice I can find is to head for the grants/gifts first and the loans as a second/supporting choice when and if necessary. Here is a good starting point for federal loans  When applying for federal loans, have this collection of items at hand:

  • Records of income earned in the year before  starting school
  • Records of your parents’ income information (if you are a dependant student–a student who can still be claimed on a parent’s income tax)
  •  financial information from 2011-2012 (if you are applying to go to school in 2013)
  • Your correct Social Security number (at the bachelor’s level, I learned mine by writing it so many times!)
  • Your driver’s license
  • Last year’s W2 forms or any forms about your earnings from the year previous to filing the FAFSA
    Spouse’s Federal Income Tax Return
  • Untaxed income statements
  • Bank statements
  • current mortgage, business and farm records
  • Stocks, bonds and investment records

While you are here, why not help yourself get organized by downloading the FAFSA on the web worksheet?

You do not submit this worksheet as if it were the instrument you use to actually submit a request for a Federal student  loan. Click the link to actually apply for the FAFSA on line.

The subject of paying for an education is a labyrinth online. Take caution: there are some “Minotaurs” and other monsters lurking around– financial ignorance and unscrupulous lenders who take advantage of it.