Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Beware the Sticker Price Mistake

I think about money a lot, and it's generally in three categories: how to make it, save it and spend it wisely -- and that includes college.

My parents didn't go to college. There were many reasons, I am sure, but a primary one was that their parents didn't appreciate the value of education or know how they would pay for it. Here's an updated version of that belief: we can't afford a private college; a state school is your only choice.

As John Nettleton, a certified college planning specialist at The College Financial Network, says, "Parents make the sticker price mistake."

A Mom's College Cram Course panelist/admissions officer had restrictions placed on her choices. Her parents, who hadn't attended college either, assumed they wouldn’t receive financial aid and that meant they wouldn’t be able to afford our panelist's private college choice.

As our panelist stated, "There’s no question that state colleges and universities can be excellent choices for some students; my concern is that many people assume it’s their only choice. My advice: at least apply to private universities and see what financial aid you might receive."

As parents, we shouldn't shut down the dream process prematurely. Our teens should be able to consider a wide world of possibilities.

So even if money is an issue -- and it is to nearly all of us -- don't let perceptions about costs limit the application process. What's to lose by applying?

With some planning, there just might be a wonderful surprise.

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