Howard University- $41,000
Princeton University – $51,000
UCLA – $27,000 (in-state), $50,000 (out-of-state)
UNC- $38,000 (out-of-state)
What’s going on all you soon to be collegiate masses and parents? Welcome to the Spirit of Sankofa Gettin to College Series. I want you to take a look at the numbers listed above. They represent the tuition and room & board costs of attending these universities and many others like them. Many of you may be taken aback by these numbers, wondering how in the world you will be able to afford this dream of yours. You may also, as a result, be thinking of putting your dream-school aside and attending a significantly less expensive community college or small state school. Though these institutions are fantastic and provide high standards of educational opportunity as well, I must try and persuade you not to give up on your dream just yet.
Allow me to introduce you to my friend. His name is Financial Aid and he was the homie all four years of my undergraduate career. In total, my schooling cost about $204,000 and you want to know how much I paid? I paid -$14,000, and I want you to notice that negative sign in front of that amount. It means that I was, in a sense, paid to go to college. Due to my mother’s financial need and the billions on billions of dollars my school was sitting on, I was awarded what’s called “need-based financial aid” and lots of it. This opened a window of opportunity that essentially made the decision of where I would be going to college in those coming months. So allow me to break down some monetary things for all of you:
Private vs. Public Universities-
Public universities are typically your state schools such as UC’s, University of Texas, Rutgers, Ohio State, Iowa State and so on. These schools attract many applicants due to their low cost compared to most private universities, being that they get significant funding from tax dollars and various public sources (you can find a good explanation of the differences between public and private institutions here: http://goo.gl/kVZRy). Private schools, such as your Ivy Leagues and HBCUs aren’t eligible for many of these sources of income and rely on donations from alumni and other sources. To alleviate their operating costs and so on, their tuitions and fees are typically higher. This is an important concept to understand as you work through deciding your top college choices.
How do I know if a school will give me enough financial aid?
On the websites for almost every school you are applying to, you should be able to find the financial aid offices site. Explore these pages carefully and you should be able to find information such as average financial aid packages for particular income ranges, percentages of students who receive aid, and even financial aid estimators as offered by Princeton University’s Financial Aid Department (http://goo.gl/vJiZt). Many of you may go to your prospective schools’ websites and not be able to find the info you need and in this case, you better pick up the phone. Find that financial aid office’s phone number and give them a call. It only takes a few minutes and I assure you there’s no better source than the words coming straight from a Fin. Aid Officer’s mouth. So get money hunting!
Hopefully you all know about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) already. All students seeking to apply for and receive financial aid from a college or university must complete this. It asks you for all of your family’s financial information in order to gauge your “expected family contribution (EFC),” or how much you will be expected to contribute to your educational expenses based on your family income (my EFC each year for example, was a big ZERO). This is sent to all the schools you apply to and is used by the financial aid offices in order to devise your aid package. Many schools will require you to fill out an additional financial aid application specific to their institution.
In addition to federal aid and money directly from the school, you will want to also become best friends with Fastweb.com and other scholarship search engines (an article on others here: http://goo.gl/WtgOL). Sites like these allow you to make a profile, fill in a bunch of information, and will then instantly populate a list of scholarships, aka free money, that you are eligible to apply for. Yes, you may be saying “man, I’m tired from filling out all of these college apps, I ain’t trying to do more.” Well, my response to that is suck it up and put in work if you expect to pay these unnecessarily high school fees. These scholarships have application deadlines that reach well into the year after your college apps are due so you have lots of time to fill them out. Remember that in addition to tuition and room & board, you’ll have to buy books for all your classes (the average science textbook costs about $280), supplies, and other living necessities so you’re going to need all the money you can get.
There are billions of dollars out there waiting for you to take. If I haven’t convinced you yet, then let me tell you that many of these awards send a check directly to you, and not to your school. One such scholarship is the Spirit of Sankofa Scholarship presented by us here at Wisdom From The Field, Inc. (info and application to be posted January 1, 2013). Hopefully I’m not the only person who was attracted to such an opportunity to add some weight to my pockets.
In Closing –
I hope that this was helpful to many of you out there. Trust that I speak from experience when I say that dreams do NOT have to be deferred by financial constraints. College can and most likely will be expensive and for the youth growing up in many of our Black communities, the cost presents a brick wall. This easily could have been the case for me, however I did all I had to do to find the school that would offer me the most money and put minimal weight on my mother’s already heavy shoulders, while providing me with a great environment and education as well. To say the least, my mission was accomplished and yours will be as well.
I encourage all of you to add your comments below if there is something either not discussed here or that you feel needs elaboration. For the parents and students, please contact us at WisdomFTF@wisdomFTF.com or BrandonB@WisdomFTF.com with any questions. We’re here to help you all achieve the success waiting at your front door…
On a Move!