Americans today agree that college is an important part of the equation to getting ahead in today’s complicated world. People define middle class existence as having a college degree and the career that comes with it. But with our troubled economy, more and more parents and students are wondering how they are going to pay for that degree. The financial aid that was once easy to come by is getting harder and harder to find. Colleges are raising tuition fees so that even the once-affordable state schools have become too pricey for many would-be students.
The College Conundrum
Even one generation ago, a person could establish himself in a career and climb the corporate ladder without a college degree. CEOs and company presidents with nothing but high school diplomas were everywhere, passing their hard-earned wisdom on to their employees and their children. But many of them sent those children to college. They felt it was a gift they could give their kids, something they didn’t get to experience that was important. College was seen as a special boost that put you ahead of the regular folks; something extra that made it much easier for you to rise to the top.
Today's College Challenges
Things are much different now. In today’s global economy, we’re competing not only with our fellow Americans, but also with workers from all over the world. So now more than ever, we know that in order to succeed in a global market, we need as much education as everyone else. To most Americans, this means an associates degree is the bare minimum a person is going to need for certain entry-level positions, and if you want to rise higher up the career ladder, you need a bachelors degree or higher. Certain careers require a minimum of a masters degree or doctorate degree just to start working, so students spend many years and countless thousands of dollars on schooling before they even begin earning a paycheck. The prospect of paying for such a pricey education can be daunting. Couple this with the fact that the cost of higher education has risen substantially in the last few years, and this gives students and parents a real cause for concern.
Financial Options for College
What can students and parents do to solve this issue? There are financial aid options such as government and private loans, which can greatly offset a family’s burden. But parents and students need to be mindful of their repayment obligations when school is over. Problems with Loan repayment can greatly affect a person’s credit score and is not to be taken lightly. The recent stimulus legislation enacted by the government offers some hope that more financial aid will become available to students.
Scholarships are another way for students to earn money for school. Some scholarships are based on qualifications such as religious affiliation, sports or artistic abilities, or ethnicity. Others may be regional or based on academic performance. Scholarships may be awarded as a lump sum or given to the student in increments over a set period of time based on some stipulation such as maintenance of academic standards or athletic team participation during the student’s college career.
Another option students and parents might consider is career training. This is a great option for students who are not as academically inclined or who want to pursue a career that does not require an academic degree, but rather a technical certificate or occupational training. Such careers include Culinary Arts, Automobile/Automotive Mechanics Technology/Technician and Agriculture, among many others. These careers can be both rewarding and profitable. They lend themselves to people of an entrepreneurial nature and those who seek flexible career options and transferable skills. There are many schools that have specialty programs for these types of careers, and they tend to offer programs that are extremely focused with hands-on training and low student-teacher ratios, so students receive a lot of personal attention from teachers. These programs tend to be far shorter than the usual two-year associates degree program, and they usually offer internship programs and other career assistance when the student has completed the training program.
People Who Read This Article Also Read:
Figure Out What College Will Really Cost You
Costs Of A Bachelor’s Degree Program
Struggling Economy Is Proving a Boon for 2-Year Colleges
Students Struggling to Find College Loans Have a New Option: Peer Lending
Even in the Current Economy, Plenty of Loan Options Available for College Students