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By Taariq N. Adams
Tuition cost and attaining funds have always been an issue for college students, especially if one has to borrow money to pay to attend. A short survey was given to a group of students, asking how they handled their college finances and their plan to pay off loans. Unfortunately, no one responded, possibly because this is a very touchy subject and few are willing to discuss financial matters in detail.
However, when the tuition bill arrives, it is often difficult to comprehend and may require an explanation.
According to collegefactual.com, an undergraduate full-time student living on campus at Towson University may expect to pay more than $9,000 for tuition and fees as well as more than $15,000 for housing, meals, and books for the 2016 school year. Keep in mind that this is for in-state students. Out of state students should expect to pay more.
Not only that, the projected cost is expected to go up by at least $500 for the upcoming year with the possibility of it increasing until 2019.
According to Dr. Daraius Irani, chief economist at Towson University, one of the reasons for these increases in costs is due to the declining state support for public institutions across the country.
“There used to be a lot more dollars for the university that were coming in from the state rather than from tuition, now that has switched rather dramatically,” he said. “State support for universities has declined which results in tuition dollars having to rise.”
However, Towson students have options when it comes to paying tuition. They can apply for financial aid for grants, scholarships and federal loans and private loans. According to Jennifer Schleigh, associate director of financial aid at Towson University, students who apply for FAFSA, which is part of financial aid application, receive a notification known as expected family contribution or an EFC.
“It determines a student’s financial need,” she said. “The lower your EFC and the more financial needs you have, the more grant you’re going to get as opposed to someone who has a low financial need, maybe higher income etc. It’s really just going to be getting loans.”
She explained that there is a cap on the amount of federal grant and this is based on enrollment status. According to collegefactual.com, students attending Towson University often end up with more than $30,000 of student loans over the course of attending four years.
Schleigh also said that 63% of the students borrow to help pay for costs. For out of state students, these loans can be substantial.
According to Dr. Irani, students upon graduating do not earn much in entry-level jobs, thus adding the risks of defaulting on student loans or making it harder to make payments. This leads to higher interest on student loans, sometimes doubling the amount of total loan due. It becomes almost impossible to pay off debts completely in a reasonable time.
One might question if a college degree and education is really worth the effort and cost. According to Dr. Irani, the answer is yes.
A college degree is worthwhile because it will ensure a higher earning compared to a high-school graduate and will have a security in employment. A higher earning career is worth it to be able to make a living and through hard work; it is possible to pay off debts in the long run.
Students need to be vigilant when it comes to financing their college education. Schleigh also emphasized three pitfalls students need to adhere in regards financial aid. First, meet deadlines, second, turn in requested documents on time, and third, read the financial aid package submitted by the financial aid office and respond in time.
A bit of advice that has been repeated many times was that students should apply to as many scholarships as possible, and the best way to be applicable for those scholarships is to maintain a good GPA and strive to do well in college.
According to Lorie Logan-Bennet, Director at Towson’s Career Center, she advised students to stop by the career center in hopes of applying for any internship to enhance their skills in their field of study.
“The Career Center offers a variety of ways for students to connect with employers for part-time and full-time jobs including Hire@TU job postings, job fairs, scheduled on-campus interviews, etc,” she said. “We also help students with developing skills that will allow them to effectively conduct a job search.”
Logan-Bennet also advised to take advantage of all the services that are available to students. She also drew emphasis on networking with professors, fellow students, and alumni.
“Be sure to develop the skills employers look for get applied experience, build your network, and learn how to effectively articulate what you have to offer an employer,” she said.
In reference to the survey, it is possible that students didn’t responded to it because either they already knew this and didn’t have to explain or because they are overwhelmed with tuition bills. Whatever the case may be, Towson University has the services and information available to those who wish to take advantage of it.