Affordable Alternatives To A High Priced College Education

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The total cost of attendance at some private colleges now exceeds $70,000 a year.

Even state colleges and universities can come with a hefty price tag. The University of MN Twin Cities has an all-in annual cost of about $28,000.

Today, more and more parents scratch their heads and ask, “Is it really worth it?”

Perhaps a better question to ask would be, “Is a traditional 4-year college education really necessary?”

For some students, another path may be the smarter career (and financial) move to make.

While many career fields require a traditional college education and even advanced degrees, many do not. Healthcare, the building trades, and mechanical industries offer many career opportunities that require less than a 4-year college degree, but also offer reasonable pay, a high level of job security and advancement opportunities.

Consider this: Tuition, fees and books cost just under $7,000 at the Minneapolis Community and Technical College and other similar schools in our area. That’s less than half of what students pay at The University of Minnesota, and a fraction of what many private schools charge.

Wondering how much the schools on your list cost? Click here for a complete listing of tuition and related fees at every school in MN.

Not surprisingly, graduates of 2-year community college or vocational programs tend to graduate with less debt than their friends at 4-year colleges; $10,000 total student loan debt on average compared to over $28,000 for the typical college grad.

Not only do students spend less per year for fewer years at community and tech colleges, but they get into the workforce sooner and start saving earlier than most traditional college grads.

A 4-year college degree isn’t for everyone. Fortunately, today there are many other options. To learn more talk to your school counselor or attend a career and college fair at your high school, if one is offered.

Career and College Fair. On February 26, Centennial High School will host its first annual Career and Technical College Fair. It’s an opportunity to learn more about various community and tech colleges, explore different careers, and talk to experts who understand that a 4-year college degree isn’t the only path to a secure future.

For more information: click here.

These 5 Assets Are Exempt on the FAFSA Form

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Starting as early as October 1, families with kids going to college can complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, aka the FAFSA form.

The FAFSA requires students and their parents to provide information about their income and assets in order to determine what is called the Expected Family Contribution or EFC. More specifically, the FAFSA wants to know about your income from the previous tax year (2017, if you complete the FAFSA for the 2018-2019 school year), and the value of your assets as of the day you fill out the form.

With smart planning families can complete the FAFSA in a way that maximizes their opportunities to receive need-based financial aid for college. Since the FAFSA asks about the value of your assets on the day you fill out the form, the time to reposition assets and implement your plan to pay less for college starts before you complete the FAFSA.

The following 5 assets are exempt on the FAFSA and are not counted in the EFC calculation.

Visit Over 400 Colleges Without Leaving Town

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The National Association of College Admissions Counselors hosts a major college fair in the Twin Cities each year. This year’s fair is October 24th and 25th at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

With over 5,000 colleges and universities in the United States odds are good that 90% of them are schools you have never heard of before. The Minnesota NACAC College Fair offers students and their parents a unique opportunity to talk to representatives of many of these schools as well as many others that are more familiar to Minnesota families.

It’s free and open to the public. You can register online here

Filing Your FAFSA Form Online? There’s An App For That.

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Today I’m featuring a guest post by Jeannie Burlowski, author of the book LAUNCH: How to Get Your Kids Through College Debt-Free and Into Jobs They Love Afterward. You can see over 50 reviews of LAUNCH here.

Are you parenting a student of any age who’ll be in college next fall? If so, one of your most important tasks this year will be to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon after October 1st as possible. This applies to every student and every parent—no exceptions.

Are you convinced that for you, filling out the FAFSA will be a waste of time—because you make far too much money to qualify for any college aid? Check out this article on 7 Reasons to Fill Out FAFSA Even if You’re Rich.

And then get out your smartphone.

As of October 1st, 2018, you can fill out the FAFSA on your phone.

For years, students and parents filling out the FAFSA were required to complete the form using desktop computers. In 2018, though, a new, mobile-friendly version of FAFSA was released.

Here, 8 things you’ll need to know before you fill out the FAFSA on your phone.

A Cautionary Tale About Student Loan Debt

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Every fall I do college planning workshops for parents of college-bound high school students to help them pay less for college. My goal is to give them the tools and information they need to become smarter consumers of a college education so they can make better choices for themselves and their kids.

After one of my presentations a woman came up to me and told me that she wished someone had giver her or her parents this information when she was in school. She went on to say that even as her daughter was about to graduate from high school she was still struggling to pay off her own student loan debt.

Suddenly, the concept of student loan debt became very real, very fast.