Come Up With a Financial Plan

Choosing A School You Can Afford

When you’re researching colleges and universities it’s important to think about which schools are a good financial fit for you and your family. What can you and your family afford to contribute to the cost of your college education? Do the schools you like offer good financial aid packages or scholarships? Are you willing to take out student loans now and pay them off after graduation? These are important questions to think about as you sort through schools.

In-State and Out-Of-State Status

You’ll also want to think about whether you’ll attend an in-state or out-of-state school. If you attend a school in the state where you are a resident, you’ll usually pay a lot less in tuition than if you attend a school outside of your state. But this isn’t the case all the time. For example, most private colleges charge a standard tuition amount whether you’re coming from within the state or outside of it. Public colleges and universities, however, usually do charge different tuition amounts that depend on your status as an in-state or out-of-state student. See our helpful college glossary for more information about in-state and out-of-state status.

Student Loans, Debt, and Satisfaction With Your College Choices

Additionally, it’s been shown that graduates’ satisfaction with their college experience is affected by how much student loan debt they took on to get their degrees. As the amount of student loan debt rose, the percentage of satisfaction decreased, according to this Gallup-Purdue University survey of 30,000 college graduates. This suggests that the costs of attending specific schools should be combined with other considerations like rankings and program availability in order to make an informed decision about where you go to school and how you will pay for it.

There are many free tools available to help you think about the costs of going to college. Check out MyCollegeMoneyPlan.org for tips and advice on planning for the costs of college. Also, use College Navigator to help you find the right school for you. This free tool is overseen by the U.S. Department of Education. It includes a College Affordability and Transparency Center, which lets you see schools with the highest and lowest tuitions and fees. It also allows you to see a scorecard for each school showing you the average annual cost of attendance, the graduation rate, and graduates’ average salaries. You and your family may use these resources to come up with a financial plan for college.