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How to Pick the Best College Value

How to Pick the Best College Value

When deciding which colleges and universities to apply to, it takes more than comparing each institution’s price to find the right pick. There are several factors to weigh, such as the facilities, proximity to a city and alumni network. Here are some tips for how to pick the best value.

Weigh Financial Aid Options

Financial aid comes in many forms, so knowing the differences helps you get a grasp on which school is the least expensive. Scholarships usually are granted based on personal need, academic ability or skills and and don’t need to be paid back. 

Loans, on the other hand, are borrowed by students to pay for college and must be paid back later. Because of interest rates, which make the sum grow over time, student loans can be difficult to pay back quickly.

Research what sort of financial aid is granted by each school you’re interested in and how much debt each student graduates with on average. Placing preference with schools that give need-based scholarships is a far better choice than having to graduate with the burden of student debt.

Look for Your Major

Just because you’d pay more at one school doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for what you want to study. Research the colleges and universities that are the best for what you’re looking to major in.

Even if you aren’t sure what your major will be, compare programs that interest you. Reputation isn’t everything, and many smaller schools have more superior programs than other renowned institutions.

Small Costs

Although they shouldn’t be the most important factor when picking a school, tallying up the small costs is a smart thing to do. Depending on what college or university you attend, account for the price of weather-appropriate clothes, travel, future off-campus housing, transit and nightlife.

It’s also crucial to understand a school's net price. As tuition rises each year, it’s possible for schools to decrease the aid it grants to students. Use a net price calculator, usually found on each school's website, to get a better idea of what you’ll pay each year instead of going off the estimated cost.

Graduates’ Average Earnings

One key element is how much each school's average graduate earns. It isn’t the most important factor, but it hints at how well the institution prepares students for careers and how successful the alumni network is.

Finding the average earnings for graduates with your desired major offers an even more detailed look, as some majors earn far more than others.

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