Written by: Lauren Ritter, Executive Vice President of NSHSS Fellows Program Executive Board
Thinking about higher education? Let us help. Pursuing higher education is no small investment. Investing in your future career requires not only a great amount of time, but with the high costs of tuition, a great amount of money as well. So it is important to find schools that offer the best value—low debt and high return on investment. Here are some helpful tips that our NSHSS members have found useful:
Making the List
When considering colleges and graduate programs, it is important to look for schools that offer great tuition deals. If you’re unsure of where to begin your search, Kiplingers and US News & World Report publish lists every year ranking the best deals for higher education. The National Center for Education offers a College Navigator tool, which is a fantastic resource for finding institutions that offer substantial financial aid packages. The Education Trust has a College Results Online database that allows you to identify universities that are similar to your dream school in net price and academic competitiveness, as well as create a list of colleges to compare based on specific student and institutional characteristics.
Deals Deals Deals
When considering applying to colleges and graduate programs, it is also important to look for schools that offer a “tuition freeze” and lock your tuition cost when you matriculate or schools that offer smaller percentages for tuition increases for current students. Finding schools that offer a great financial value but do not compromise their academic competitiveness is key for building the foundation for a successful career. State schools traditionally offer some of the best tuition deals, so it is a good idea to consider them when applying to programs. Also, some colleges and graduate schools offer financial incentives to students who maintain certain grade point averages. Doing well in school pays off in many ways!
Finding colleges and graduate programs that offer generous financial aid packages is a great place to start, but a reality for many students today is taking out student loans. While this may seem daunting, there are ways to lessen your financial burden while you are still in school. Working while pursuing your education is a way to contribute towards your tuition costs; however, it should be weighed cautiously. Many schools offer work-study opportunities for students, and will reserve certain jobs on campus just for students who need work-study. Other options include finding flexible part-time jobs, internships and externships. However, your primary focus should always be on your academics and maintaining a strong grade point average.
Hard Work Pays Off
In addition to looking at schools that offer great values for tuition and finding a job to contribute towards overall costs, there are thousands of scholarships available for students today. A quick internet search will provide you with multiple websites that allow you to search for scholarships that fit your academic needs and interests. You can also contact the financial aid office at many colleges and graduate schools to see if there are any scholarships available to incoming students and if there are scholarships for students who maintain high grade point averages once matriculated. Working hard and getting good grades pays in more than one way.