Planning for College: Factors to Consider

PlanningTake a moment and rewind 40, 30 or even 20 years and consider what constituted the college planning “process.”

For many families it went something like this: student takes the SAT’s, student applies to a school or two of interest, student gets accepted, student (or family) pays the bill or the student borrows a minimal amount of money for loans).

This scenario may be overly simplistic but certainly the process of applying, selecting and funding education used to be far less expensive and complicated.

One of the complications today is the additional time needed to adequately plan. On the student selection side, some schools require not just an SAT or an ACT but want students to complete SAT subject tests, write multiple essays on an application and/or interview for an enrollment opportunity.

If a student has a specific major in mind, the requirements may differ to get into a specific college and the undecided student may have to attend college for five or even six plus years due to an inability to complete the necessary course load.

On the financial side, parents need to understand when to apply for financial aid, which colleges are the most generous in what they provide to students, what form (or forms) need to be completed, what payment options are available, what kind of loans are preferable and how much money is earmarked for student borrowing versus parental borrowing.

The aforementioned are just a few of the additional steps necessary to send a student to college and the more selective a college, the more paperwork for both students and parents.

Some of the other questions that warrant consideration include: What on and off-campus job opportunities are available, how much is it to live on campus, what percentage of graduates receive jobs in their chosen field after graduation and what is the ratio of students to faculty?

Just like ever student has different needs, each family has a unique decision-making process and unique challenges to overcome that make generalizations difficult to count on.

Some families seek the advice of qualified professionals in the college planning arena to personalize their process so that nothing is missed or overlooked during the years leading up to college and throughout the college years.

We recommend seriously considering a consultation of some sort with a professional so that either a family’s solid plan can be reinforced or they can receive the wakeup call before it is too late.