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Paying For College - Head Matters


2. Smart Consumer

The thrifty student
It’s also important to be a smart and careful consumer while enrolled in college. Many college students have little income from working while they’re in school – especially if they’re attending school full time. Therefore, because you will likely be earning little, it is especially important to spend carefully and cautiously. Remember that you’ll be responsible to pay back every dollar you borrow in student loans. So if you are offered more in student loans than you really need, don’t accept all of it. You can decline a portion of your student loan.  Then you will owe less when you get out of school!

There’s an old saying… “Live like a college student while you’re in college or live like a college student for the rest of your life.” If you’re not careful with your finances while you’re in college, you could find yourself with debt that you can’t afford when you graduate from college and not be able to afford the things you really want.   

For-Profit Colleges vs. Not-For-Profit Colleges

There are lots of different types of colleges out there. One of the distinctions between schools is whether the school is for-profit (meaning that they make a profit) or non-profit (meaning that any earnings are reinvested in the school or the students).

Both types of schools can offer a good education, but there are some important differences. When you’re comparing schools be sure that you ask a few tough questions to help you find the school and the program that’s right for you.

  1. How much does the program cost? You can compare the cost of similar programs at different types of schools.
  2. Will the credits I earn transfer to different type of schools – for example, from for-profit to non-profit schools and from 2-year to 4-year schools?
  3. What is your graduation rate? (All school have students who don’t complete their program, but a low graduation rate could be a bad sign)
  4. How much student loan debt does a typical student take on? Information for the specific program you are pursuing will be most helpful. You can use College In Colorado’s SLOPE calculator to determine whether or not you will be able to handle that amount of debt.
  5. What is your job placement rate and do you offer career counseling or post graduate work plans?
  6. What is your student loan default rate? (A high default rate could indicate that students are not able to sustain careers that have the financial pay-off to re-pay student loans.)
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