The Bridge to Success
March 3, 2016
The Cost of College
Most students often fear the idea of having to pay for college when they encounter the many different factors that go into the final “sticker price” to attend a university. Included in a university’s sticker price are the cost of tuition, service fee, housing/meals, books/school supplies, and personal expenses. According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2015–2016 school year was $32,405 at private colleges, $9,410 for state residents at public colleges, and $23,893 for out-of-state residents attending public universities. To newly turned adults, these figures can cause anxiety and added stress to individuals who are already going through a major life transition.
Luckily, universities have systems in place that facilitate this process for students by providing financial assistance to help them afford a college education. A plethora of families cannot afford to pay the egregious sticker price of a school.There are a select few colleges (62 out of 1,136 colleges that disclosed financial data) that award monies to assist families in affording the cost of attendance. These schools are reported to meet the full, 100 percent financial need that a family demonstrates. This need is covered with a financial aid package that consists of an amalgamation of loans, scholarships, grants, and work-study opportunities. Over 66% of the schools listed below are highly ranked in categories from National Liberal Arts Colleges (Williams College is ranked #1) to National Universities (Princeton University, ranked number one overall). It may take great strides to get accepted into these schools, however, they will award your merit and perseverance by providing premier financial help so you can pursue a prestigious post-secondary education.
Moreover, outside scholarships are able to help any student willing to fill out an application. Outside scholarships are usually provided by a private company, foundation, or philanthropist; they are not awarded by schools or the government. These scholarships are honored to students who usually meet certain criteria ranging from explaining the impact being left-handed has had on your life to showing off your research on the dangers of fungi. Every prospective college student, regardless of their financial situation, should apply for outside scholarships. They are a fantastic resource to finance a college education and do not have to be paid back like student loans. Links to websites that provide scholarship applications can be found below this article.
There is an organization that is dedicated to increasing the percentages of talented low-income students attending the nation’s best universities. QuestBridge envisions a world where America’s leadership encompasses thoughtful and broad-minded decision-makers drawn from every economic segment of society. This organization works in association with some of the nation’s top colleges such as Columbia, Brown, CalTech, MIT, Northwestern, Princeton, Stanford, Yale, etc.
For juniors, becoming a QuestBridge scholar provides you with the opportunities to attain an early advantage in the college application process through informative emails, videos, and other online access tools. All College Prep Scholars receive specialized guidance on applying to college, writing college essays, and overall, becoming a stronger, more outstanding potential candidate to top colleges. Some scholars may even receive full summer scholarships to programs at Stanford, Yale, Emory, Penn, and more. QuestBridge is a free service open to all US citizens and permanent residents. Anyone who is willing to put in the extra hours of work, will then be evaluated to become selected as a QuestBridge Scholar. The selection criteria includes academic achievement, financial qualifications, and personal circumstances. The deadline to apply is March 23, 2016 at 11:59 PM. To apply: http://www.questbridge.org/for-students/cps-how-to-apply.
Going into senior year, QuestBridge scholars become eligible to apply to the QuestBridge National College Match. This program also does require a lengthy and personal application, but if you are selected as a finalist, you will have the opportunity to rank up to 12 QuestBridge partner colleges and apply through an early decision process at zero cost to you or your family. Those who are “matched” with a college, receive a full four-year scholarship worth over $200,00 each. All College Match scholarship packages include students having no parental contribution needed and no student loans to be taken out! A majority of partner colleges offer binding contracts, meaning that if you are matched, or admitted, then you must attend that university.
While some may be put off by the length of the application or even by the thought of putting in more work in school than they believe they should, I can personally attest to the significant impact that QuestBridge can have in the college application process. Not only was I able to envision the type of applicant that each of these schools were looking for, I was also able to shape myself into becoming a stronger candidate come application time. I was lucky enough to be introduced to QuestBridge early on in my junior year and upon researching the program, I was certain on applying. The information that QuestBridge provided me placed me at a huge advantage going into senior by helping me narrow my college list and helping me decide on a major to pursue. During my senior year, I was selected as a College Match Finalist, however, I was not matched with any partner college. Nonetheless, all my efforts paid off when I was accepted early action to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I believe that being associated with such a prestigious organization did strengthen my application and helped me get to where I am now. Therefore, I am thankful to QuestBridge and encourage anyone interested to visit the site and apply themselves!