female college student

Covering the Rising Cost of College

Affording College Becomes More Difficult in the Wake of the Pandemic

Earning a four-year degree from a private or public college has become more expensive since the COVID-19 pandemic. For the 2020-2021 school year, a four-year degree at a private university costs an average of $50,770. For in-state public colleges the cost is about $22,180. Adding in other expenses associated with college, some families are spending over $70,000 per year on a college education.

Even before COVID-19, paying for college was tough. Then the pandemic wreaked havoc on millions of people’s finances, making paying for college even more difficult for many. The good news is that most families don’t have to foot all of the bill for college on their own. From scholarships to financial aid, here is a look at how to make paying for college more manageable.

FAFSA Applications Fall

The pandemic caused financial hardship for many. Though the labor market and the economy as a whole is recovering, many people are still recovering from the past year and a half financially. Close to two-thirds of parents who responded to a recent survey expressed concerns about covering the cost of higher education.

Despite this trend, the number of families completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA®, is down. According to one study, 68% of families completed FAFSA this year, which is lower than the 71% in the 2019-2020 school year. In order to access federal grants, work-study, and federal student loans, families must complete FAFSA. However, some families skip the application because they do not think they will qualify or they find it too complex. The reality is that most people who apply receive some form of aid, so it is worth checking.

Scholarships Often Overlooked

Scholarships are another major source of funding for college-bound students, but many families do not take advantage of them. A recent survey found that only slightly more than half of families turned to scholarships to get money for college. That is despite the fact that the average scholarship size is $9,797. The main reason families are not getting scholarship funds is that students don’t fill out the applications.

Without a doubt, the cost of earning a college degree is expensive and will only get pricier. However, thanks to scholarships, grants, financial aid, and student loans, there are ways to make it more manageable.

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ABOUT Meg Richardson Meg Richardson is a writer specializing in markets, technology, and personal finance. She loves breaking down seemingly complex ideas and making them readable and interesting for everyone. She holds an MFA in writing from Columbia University. When she is not writing about finance, she enjoys running in Central Park and drawing cartoons.

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