Getting Practical About College Choices (And Their Costs)

paying for college
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Feeling a little freaked out about how you’re going to pay for college? You’re certainly not alone. And given the state of the current economy, it’s easy to see why families across America are trying to cut costs.

According to Sallie Mae’s recently released study “How America Pays for College 2011”, families are spending nine percent less on the kids’ higher education bills than they did in 2010, even though an increasing number of students think that college is necessary for their desired occupations – and helping them build a brighter future.

“Virtually all families reported taking cost-savings measures, such as attending lower-cost colleges, living at home, or going to school part time,” according to Sallie Mae’s findings.

Of course, college still comes with a hefty price tag – according to the 2010-2011 study, families paid a total average of $21,889 for a college degree. Mix that in with a shaky job and housing market, and it’s easy to see why 80 percent of families filed a Free Application for Federal Aid this year – that’s 8 percent more than filed in 2010.

But here’s something to think about as you make your own college plans: Could making practical choices today lead to an easier transition into your post-graduation life? “If by being more cost-conscious from Year One, students graduate with less debt, they could be more likely to make ends meet after graduation,” writes AnnaMaria Andriotis in a recent Smart Money article.  “They’ll also have a better shot at pursuing a profession they truly want rather than finding a job that pays enough to cover their loan payments — a challenge that thousands of students are currently facing.”

What do you think? How much are you willing to pay to go the college of your choice – and has the current economy impacted your plans in any way?

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