Judy Moseman, Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students at Bethel University, shares what to do about college concerns.
My parents seem really excited about helping me look into colleges. They love going on campus visits, and we've had some good talks about the right kind of school for me. The thing is, I have no idea how they are going to pay for the schools I'm looking at. We're far from rich, and there are three kids in my family—and all three of us will be in college over the next five years. I feel really guilty that they're taking on such a heavy load, and I'm afraid it will be too much for them. What should I do about these feelings? Do you think I should try to find some cheaper schools to look at?
A) It's great that you and your parents have enjoyed visiting colleges and talking about your choice of schools. Now you have a great foundation for a conversation about finances. Share your concerns with your parents and see how they respond. They may already have a plan in place for handling your and your siblings' college expenses. If so, you can relax and look forward to making your final decision about which college to attend.
If not, you can talk with them about other options, like working for most of your tuition or wisely taking out loans. This would be the time to suggest that you look into cheaper schools.
As you look, it's wise to consider a broad spectrum of college choices—schools with different locations, missions, academic programs, student activities and costs. Keep different options open for yourself as you go through the selection process.
Depending on your family's financial circumstances, need-based financial aid may be available to you and may make it possible for you to attend one of the more expensive schools. In the years when more than one of you and your siblings are also enrolled, your need increases and your aid can also increase, depending again on your family finances. Another option you could consider would be to attend a community college for a year or two, take your general education requirements, get good grades, and then transfer into the school that is more expensive.
I am confident that you and your family will work together to resolve your concerns about finances and that you no longer need to feel guilty or afraid.
Written by Judy Moseman