Students, parents stumble through paying for college

The stress of financing college is probably one of the hardest things students go through while in college; the constant thoughts of finding a way to come up with thousands of dollars can easily stress anyone out.

The rising cost of college has continually been impacting families more and more throughout the last couple of years. The even more frustrating part of financing college is the poor options that students are given when it comes to paying for college.

Biochemistry freshman Ezinne Uduma said she finances college mostly through an academic scholarship; the remainder of her tuition is handled by her parents. Like most college students, Uduma understands that there are a lot of extra expenses outside of tuition.

Uduma says her parents did not have prior experience of paying for college.

“We did not really research, we just kind of learned as we did it,” Uduma said. “I would have appreciated some extra assistance with scholarships.”

Uduma admits she did not receive much assistance from her high school concerning scholarships and financial aid. Uduma is one of several students who feel they are not offered enough instructions on how to pay for college from their high school or college.

According to USNews, out-of-state students pay an average of $19,867 at public universities, while in-state residents pay an average of $8,709, which is up by 2.8 percent.

The rising cost of school makes financial aid offices even more vital to students, and financial aid and FASFA have enough power to affect a student’s future. Hotel and restaurant management sophomore Phoebe Matkin said she pays for school through loans.

“I think it’s impossible to go to school debt free,” Matkin said. “I got an academic scholarship, but it doesn’t cover everything else. So yeah, my parents still help me with my groceries and stuff, but besides that I’m on my own.”

Parents are often not ready for the financial hardship college gives them. There is almost no way for an average middle class family to out aside tens of thousands of dollars for their child to go to school.

Several parents have to refinance their mortgages or take on other jobs to help put their children through college. This adds more debt and financial strain to households.

Loans are easily one of the top three ways students and their families pay for college.

The average number for student debt in on the rise, according to US News and World Report. Nearly seven in 10 graduates from the class of 2013 took out institutional, state or federal loans, graduating with an average $27,667 in debt. That’s about $500 more than borrowers in the class of 2012 had to shoulder.

“I think it is possible to go to school debt free, it’s just if you plan really early and get jobs then it could be possible,” Uduma said.

To add to the stressful situation of financial aid, there will be a change in the FASFA application starting Jan. 1, 2015. According to ABCNews, starting with the 2014-2015 school year, the FAFSA will collect information on both legal parents, regardless of marital status or gender.

The Department of Education states that “most students will be unaffected.” However, the director of federal policy analysis for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, Barmak Nassirian, said that the change could dramatically impact federal aid packages for some students to pay for college.

Political science freshman Malik Hannah pays for college through grants and scholarships, but feels it is impossible for all students to pay for school without loans.

“There is not enough money to go around,” Hannah said. “The way our financial system is set up and our government is set up, not everybody has the fundamental aspects to the money they need to pay for school.”

Sadly, the majority of students are unaware of where to look for scholarships or how to apply for grants. It also doesn’t help when parents are just as unaware of knowing how to maximize their child’s financial aid.

It is important that students put aside time from studying and working to look at alternatives aside from loans to pay for schooling. Believe it or not, there are options out there and it is never too early or late to start looking for assistance.

Opinion columnist Faith Alford is a journalism sophomore and may be reached at [email protected].

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