Monday, January 2, 2012

Funding A College Education

In today's ever changing world the most important thing that a person can have is a college education. Without some form of higher learning, it is close to impossible to obtain a career that will be satisfying and rewarding in one's life.
The United States Census Bureau has reported that a person with a Master's degree will earn $1.3 million more income in a lifetime than a person who holds only a high school diploma. This fact is boggling to say the least. And for women and minorities that figure is even more depressing. With this understanding, a person should be looking to obtain a higher level of education to increase their standard of living, their quality of life, and their overall well-being. It is proven that people with higher levels of education tend to improve their health as well.
The problem with obtaining an education today is that college tuition rates have been on a steady rise while funding for college level education has been declining. Through the recent fiscal crisis and economic downturn, the states have steadily reduced funds available for college education. Increasingly, college is become more for those who have an athletic ability to earn a scholarship and those whose families are financially able to support them. With this in mind the future college student must look to every possible avenue to obtain financing for a college education.
With public four-year college tuition and fees averaging $7,605 per year for in-state residents, and $11,990 per year for out-of-state residents, even the cost to stay close to home can be unbearable for the average family. When one looks to the private institutions the cost are even greater with the average yearly tuition and fees rate of $27,293, which for most families is their yearly salary from employment. The cost for attending a two-year community college can lessen the impact, but the average is still costly at $2,713 per year for tuition and fees. With the average annual increase of 4%; how does the average family pay for college education to better their lives and the lives of their family?
The most common funding source for college students is to seek federal loans and grants to pay the necessary cost. However, not all families are eligible for the full amount of the federal Pell grant. The formula for awarding Pell grants to future college students includes the total income of the household. If this income exceeds the federal threshold formula then the grant will be reduced accordingly. The maximum amount that a Pell grant will cover is up to $5,500 a year for tuition, if eligible, and the remainder must be covered by loans, family, and the student working. This causes a burden to the family and the student working to obtain a higher degree. With the the financial burdens and the yearly increases for the cost of college education, a family should be looking for multiple alternative financing methods and options.

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