Three diverse students sitting at table with textbooks talkingThere are a Lot of Ways to Get There

Realistically, two of the biggest questions people have when thinking about college is what it will cost and how they’re going to pay for it. Making the commitment to college is a major decision. Planning for college costs and checking out your funding options just makes sense. Although loans are more the rule than the exception, most experts recommend you plan carefully and take advantage of all the options you have to keep your debt to a minimum – preferably not exceeding the amount of money you expect to earn in your first year after graduation. A tall order, but one that’s much more doable at a community college where tuition and fees are less expensive than at private or public four-year universities and for-profit colleges.

Start with a Budget

College costs include tuition and fees, books, and other indirect costs such as transportation, housing (if not choosing to live at home), childcare for students with families and so on. So it’s important to start with a budget so you have a clear picture of how much you’ll need.

Scholarships

Scholarships are desirable because they are money that does not have to be paid back. There are many different types of scholarships available through the college and through a number of businesses, private and public organizations. Whether you were the class valedictorian or somewhere in the middle, whether you just graduated from high school or it’s been many years since you’ve been in the classroom, or whether you take Arts and Sciences courses for college transfer or are enrolled in a career technology program, there are scholarships you just might be eligible for. Take the time to apply. To search for scholarships and for application tips, visit eicc.edu/scholarships

Maximize Financial Aid

You should begin thinking strategically about financial aid before you even apply to colleges. You must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to apply for federal, state and some types of institutional aid. It is in your best interest to file the FAFSA as early after October 1 as possible, as some funds may be limited. You must complete a FAFSA each academic year to determine eligibility. Check out FAFSA on the web for more information or to complete the form online.

Reduce Your Costs Where Possible

Financial Aid – How to Pay for College

While some students want the experience of living on campus, if you can conveniently live at home while attending college, you may want to consider it. It will greatly reduce your expenses. Coordinating your class schedule and including a mix of online classes can help you to save on transportation costs. Being mindful of added expenses for dining out or other experiences also helps. Many colleges (including EICC) offer a number of free activities like plays, speakers and clubs. And they’re a great way to explore new interests and meet new people.

Work to Graduate on Time

One of the biggest ways you’ll end up adding to your tuition bill is by taking longer to graduate than projected. Choose your program of study early and work with your college advisor to develop an academic plan that supports your program timeline as well as your lifestyle. Plan adequate study time into your schedule. Seek help from your instructor at the first sign you are having trouble. You can also sign up for free tutoring. With planning and mindful decisions, college can be affordable. Throughout the year, EICC provides opportunities for students to learn more about how to pay for college.

For financial aid, FAFSA information and budget worksheets visit eicc.edu/financialaid

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