Costs of attending college rising faster than the rate of inflation
Despite the fact that college tuition prices are rising faster than inflation, both national and local officials said students wanting to continue their educational pursuits in college shouldn't have a problem finding financial support.
"The fact the sticker price might discourage some people from going to college is disheartening," said Jack Joyce, director of guidance services for The College Board, a national organization that attempts to bridge the gap between high school and college.
Even with overall college tuition costs rising at about 5.5 percent per year, Joyce said 70 percent of students making the jump from high school to college end up enrolling in schools that charge less than $4,000 per year in tuition.
The rising costs are still affordable if families begin to think about college expenses earlier, Joyce said.
"It makes it increasingly important that families begin to save toward college early," Joyce said. "The earlier they plan, the more options they'll have to choose from."
The amount of financial aid available to students who qualify keeps going up every year, Joyce said, and will likely top $70 billion this year.
"There's never been as much money available," Joyce said.
Bonner Springs High School counselors Rick Moulin and Lisa Terrell also said there should be plenty of money available for graduating seniors this year.
"I think it's expensive, but I think there are resources available for anyone who wants to go to college," Moulin said. "I always tell kids, don't let money be an obstacle. You can't really put a price tag on education."
Moulin said there are a variety of ways to pay for college, including Pell grants, financial aid and scholarships. Pell grants, which are based on need, give students money for tuition they aren't required to pay back, and traditional financial aid is available for students who meet financial requirements.
"The worst case scenario, you get a student loan and pay it back when you graduate," Moulin said.
Terrell said the Internet can be a useful tool for students hoping to find some money to help with college expenses."The use of technology and it being so widespread has made the scholarship search so much easier," Terrell said.
There are several Internet sites, such as www.fastweb.com, which allow students to do customized searches for scholarships and e-mail updates on new scholarships they are qualified for.
BSHS will be hosting Financial Aid Night at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 10, for students and parents interested in learning more about obtaining money to help pay for college. Counselors recommend the program for seniors, and a financial aid expert will be available to help with filling out Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms and answer other questions.
"The form is very intimidating, but once you get into it, it's not as bad as it looks," Terrell said.
BSHS also offers a partnership program between the high school and Kansas City Kansas Community College. The program, which costs about $43 per credit hour, offers students a chance to complete as many as 30 credit hours of college classes while still attending high school.
"There are still some options available to keep the costs affordable," Terrell said.
The high school also solicits local scholarship donors to help graduating seniors. The scholarships are then awarded annually during a special program.
For more information on how to become a scholarship donor, contact Lisa Terrell at BSHS, 422-5121.