The good news for college-bound students and their families is that increases in education costs are slowing, according to the College Board. The not-so-good news is that the price for a college education still has increased 17% for private institutions and close to 30% for public institutions since 2007, pushing average tuition and fees for the 2014-2015 school year to $31,231 for private four-year schools and $22,958 for out-of-state-students ($9,138 for in-state students) at public four-year schools.
It doesn’t take an advanced mathematics degree to figure out that a majority of students and their families will need some form of financial aid — loans, scholarships, grants, tax credits and the like — to get through college. Indeed, according to the College Board, about 60% of students who earned bachelor’s degrees in 2012-13 graduated with student loan debt. Undergraduates received an average of $14,180 in financial aid in the 2013-14 school year.
All of which makes it vitally important for college-bound students and their families to leave no stone unturned in an effort to reduce the financial burden that typically accompanies a college education. “Just a little bit of research and work can save thousands of dollars a semester,” says financial planner Hank N. Mulvihill, Jr., CFP® principal at Mulvihill Asset Management in Richardson, Texas, and an expert in college education finances. “The money is out there. But it takes effort to find it.”
Use the following suggestions to help in the pursuit of financial aid dollars: