The whole idea of paying for college is funny. We all know it’s expensive, and, although we are all looking forward to those great four years, we also dread the idea of being in debt after we graduate.
This idea has been a hot topic among my fellow senior friends recently. Most of my pals have they decided that they want to attend a state college simply because it’s cheaper. And then there are friends that aren’t even applying to a four-year because they know that their family can’t afford to pay that much at all for college and think that there aren’t any other options.
Well, let me tell you this: my family won’t be able to pay hardly anything for college, and I am applying only to four-year, private colleges.
What? Private colleges? Aren’t those the schools that cost $50,000 just for tuition?
Yes, those are the colleges with the sticker price of $50,000. But nobody actually pays that much. And, for me, schools like that are the reason why I am going to a four-year next year and not community college.
I was like the rest of my friends not too long ago. My family was freaking out because I wasn’t good enough in tennis to receive an athletic scholarship. And, with the crazy prices of four-year institutions haunting my dreams, community college seemed like a good option, even though I really wanted to go off to college and have that amazing 18-year-old year where you’re a freshman in college, newly liberated from the structure of high school life. It made me sad, but I knew that paying thousands upon thousands of dollars just wasn’t a possibility.
I found out about Questbridge when I was in my junior year. (If you’ve never heard of it, look it up: it’s an amazing resource for low-income students.) They are affiliated with 35 amazing, private colleges, and they have this program called the National College Match, in which, if you’re selected as a finalist, you can basically apply ED to up to 8 schools that you get to choose from the 35. If you are “matched” with one (accepted ED), you are GUARANTEED a full scholarship there.
To me, this program was an absolute miracle. If I could get this scholarship, I thought, I could go to a four-year college after all!
Questbridge has another program for high-school juniors called the College Prep Scholarship, in which you can be considered to attend cool summer programs at some of the partner colleges, or go to one of Questbridge’s College Admissions Conferences. I applied to that, because “why not,” and I was selected to go to one of the College Admissions Conferences. So, the day of the conference, not really knowing what to expect, my stepmom and I hopped in our car and drove to Stanford University.
So, trying to make this as concise as possible, that conference was one of the most life-changing experiences of my life.
First off, the other students at this conference were amazing. There were teenagers of every color, from all different walks of life, and I had the opportunity to speak to some of them. It was just like my dream of college, being a part of so much diversity, and it made me so excited for the future.
But here is my main point: they did a big lecture on financial aid at private colleges, and, it turns out, tons of private colleges guarantee to meet 100% of your financial need, meaning you will not have to pay a dollar more than you can’t afford.
And this wasn’t just for Questbridge kids; this was the policy for everyone. There are dozens of private colleges in America that will pay your full college expenses if your family makes a very small amount of money.
My family could have always afforded to send me to a private college, even without outside or athletic scholarships.
This was some of the most amazing news, but I couldn’t believe that no one had ever told me this before. Seriously, no person had ever mentioned that private colleges were actually a possibility. These schools have amazing financial aid policies for not just families like mine, but for everyone, including the middle-class family that tends to get screwed over by the cost of public schools.
So now, because no one had ever told me this, I am now telling it to you: private colleges are a possibility for people of all economic backgrounds.
Now, the next step is finding out which colleges these are, because not all of them have the best policies. Here are the things you should look for on the school’s website if you absolutely need an amazing financial aid package:
- The school should guarantee to meet 100% of demonstrated need
- The school should have a no-loans policy (if you are worried about this part)
Schools like this will cover everything that you need, meaning, every dollar that is more than your Estimated Family Contribution will be covered in some way by the school.
A good way to estimate how much you will have to pay at a private college is through their net-price calculator, available on their website. Every college has one because they are legally required to. By doing this, you may find that a college that you once found impossible to attend could actually be a reality.
If you have other questions about financial aid, don’t hesitate to ask a question! Shoot an email to email@example.com.