Get ready! Cost of college is going up
The cost of State U. keeps going up.
Blame it on the slumping economy.
Budget shortfalls in many states have prompted state
universities and colleges all over the country to hike tuition.
"State economies are in really, really bad shape,"
says Carl Krueger, policy analyst at the Education Commission of
the States. "When state economies aren't doing well, one of
the first services that gets cut is funding for higher education."
If you attend a public college or university, there's
a good chance you'll be paying more for your classes this fall.
It was a similar story last fall, but this year's tuition increases
look to be even steeper.
Last year, tuition at state universities shot up 9.6
percent or about $350, according to Travis Reindl, director of state
policy at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.
This fall, tuition at state colleges is expected to
increase by at least 12 percent or $500. And some schools are socking
students with much higher increases.
The University of Missouri is boosting its tuition
by 19.8 percent. At Kansas State University, last year's 25.1 percent
tuition increase just wasn't enough. KSU is hiking tuition by another
20.3 percent this fall.
After heavy increases last year, students at state
colleges and universities in New York and California may be forced
to swallow tuition increases of 20 to 25 percent and higher this
"The increases we're seeing this year are clearly
abnormal," Reindl says. "They're much higher than they
would normally be. And we can blame it on a sluggish economy. We're
in for a couple of tough years."
If you think you'll be spared from tuition hikes because
your son or daughter attends a private college or university, think
again. Tuition at private colleges and universities is expected
to increase 5.8 percent in the 2003-2004 school year. And since
the cost of attending a private college is $18,273, a measly 5.8
percent tuition hike adds up to an extra $1,060 a year.
"A single-year increase of $1,000 -- that's going
to hurt too," Reindl says.
Not sure how your family will be able to cope with
soaring college tuition costs? These articles from Bankrate.com
for college by installment plan
Why not pay by installment plan? A hefty
tuition bill won't seem so insurmountable once it's broken into
pieces. An installment plan lets you pay for a son or daughter's
tuition with several payments over the course of a school year.
Many plans allow monthly payments. Others allow up to three payments
for college in hard times
Was it going to be a struggle to pay tuition
at a state university even before tuition shot way up? Has a layoff,
divorce or accident in 2003 sent your family's finances into a tailspin?
Your best bet is to contact the
university's financial aid department as soon as possible. Many
schools have emergency loans and grants available. A drop in family
income may make a student eligible for additional financial aid.
Parents may be eligible for additional loans as well.
You won't know what a college or
university can do to help your family, until you make that call.
Don't put it off.
loan rates reach record lows
And now for some good news. Interest rates on
Stafford loans, the largest source of student loan funds in the
country, and Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) loans,
a popular loan program for parents, are at record lows.
On July 1, the interest rate on
federal Stafford loans dropped from 4.06 percent to 3.42 percent
and the interest rate on federal PLUS loans dropped from 4.86 percent
to 4.22 percent. These rates remain in effect through June 30, 2004.
So even if your family ends up borrowing more money
to pay for college this fall, at least you'll catch a break on interest
money-management tips for college students
With times so tight, college students will want
to do everything they can to rein in personal spending. Wallet-sucking,
high-interest credit card bills are not the way to go. Your best
defense against credit card debt? Organize your financial life.
Bankrate.com's money management tips will show you how.
offbeat ways to pay for college
The news on college costs is mighty grim, but
there are plenty of creative ways to keep your college dream on
track. Dwindling state and federal aid, lower endowments and drops
in fund raising have forced many colleges and universities to raise
tuition prices and cut back on financial aid programs.
What's a cash-strapped student
to do? Get real and then get creative.
-- Updated: July 22, 2003