Dear Corinne: All My Parents See Is the Money

Dear Corinne: All My Parents See Is the Money

By Corinne

Sparkler IxSeexAll writes:

My parents are forcing me to go to a certain university because it's cheap and only ten minutes away. The problem is that it's not a very good school, and I don't want my hard work (I’ve taken AP and honors classes whenever possible) to go to waste. Also, I don't want to go to a large school with 300 students in a class because I can't learn properly that way (it's hard to explain). Lastly, it's a party school and in a semi-dangerous area. I've visited it many times for various reasons, and I hate it. I need help convincing my parents not to force me to go there...all they see is the money.

I have a story for you, IxSeexAll, and for everyone else in this too-common dilemma...

When I was a senior in high school, I applied to a private, well-known academic institution that cost over $42,000 per year and a state school that rang in at an affordable $22,000. My very supportive dad encouraged me to pursue both. From September through January, his mantra was, "We'll worry about cost when the time comes. You never know what you'll get." I didn't quite understand at the time, but what I "got" was certainly a shocker.

Through a combination of scholarships, grants, and a few non-astronomical loans, the $42,000 school wound up costing a mere $18,000. The $22,000-per-year state school suddenly became the more expensive option.

The moral of the story: Always be conscious of the tuition question, but never ever let it keep you from at least applying to those more expensive reach schools. As my dad (and Forrest, too) said, "You never know what you're going to get."

If your parents are like IxSeexAll's, sit down with them and do the FAFSA4caster. It's a practice run for the FAFSA that works exactly like the real deal form. You can run through it just like you'll do in January and get an approximate idea of what kind of financial aid your family will be receiving. Be sure to pull up your dream school's scholarship options, too, and add them into the discount. And lastly, keep those grades up! They WILL pay off, literally.

Got a question for Corinne? Send it to her at advice@sparknotes.com.

Topics: money, college admissions

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