Colleges in Recession - US News and World Report
Financial Aid 101
Recession Hits Campus
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: How will the recession affect my scholarship?
Anyone who has already been approved for a scholarship for the 2008-09 academic year probably doesn't have to worry about any reductions in their award for this year. But the outlook for scholarships for the fall 2009 is grim. Many governments and charities have already announced they are reducing the size and number of their grants.
Q: I really need a scholarship next year. What can I do?
Counselors say that students who take immediate action—which means RIGHT NOW—can increase their odds of getting money. Here are six steps to consider.
But generally, it pays to follow the money: Apply or transfer to colleges that have low sticker prices or give out lots of scholarship money. Those looking for low-cost colleges can check out local community colleges and state universities. Here is our list of colleges that we feel provide the best bang for the tuition buck.
Those hoping for big scholarships to pricier colleges can check out our list of schools that claim to meet the full financial need of students, and our list of schools that hand out lots of "merit" aid, which is awarded regardless of a family's income. Here is advice on how to increase your odds of getting merit aid.
Q: How will the recession affect my student loan?
The news isn't all bad. True, many lenders have stopped making loans altogether. And the remaining lenders are rejecting more applications for private student loans. And the few private loans still being offered have gotten much more expensive. But the federal government is making sure that most students and parents can get enough reasonably priced loans to pay at least for a community college or low-cost, in-state public university.
Don't forget that last-minute loans are still available, and local government provides some options.
And here are some tips on how to find a good, cheap student loan.
Q: How about my graduate school loan?
Graduate students are especially lucky because the federal government now allows them to borrow their full cost of attendance through the PLUS program, which is still fully funded and making loans. While no bargain—the PLUS interest rates exceed 8 percent—at least they are available.
Q: How is the recession affecting international students who need to borrow?
Students who are not citizens are among the hardest hit by the credit crunch. Most noncitizens are not eligible for U.S. government-backed education loans. And the crunch appears to have completely wiped out all lenders who made private educational loans to foreign students. But before giving up, here are a few things to try.
Q: How is the recession affecting my college?
It's not pretty. Some colleges have lost access to loans. Lots of schools that had money saved up for a rainy day have seen their investments evaporate in the stock market collapse. And some schools are losing students who are dropping out for financial reasons. All of that means many colleges have less money to run their operations. We have plenty of coverage on which colleges are being hit hardest.
Q: How will the recession affect my college experience and education?
You may have to pay higher prices for fewer course choices, larger classes, and fewer services.
Q: How will it affect my chances of getting into college next year?
If you or your parents can afford to pay the full bill—which could be as much as $23,000 a year for a local public university and more than $40,000 a year for a private school—you should be able to find some school willing to accept you.
But if you need aid or can only afford the lowest-cost schools, and you don't have stellar grades or talents, your chances have gotten much worse. Some of the lowest-cost public universities are being swamped by applications. Several California State Universities have been so overwhelmed with applicants for the fall of 2009 that they stopped accepting applications Nov. 30, 2008.
Q: But I really want a college education! Where can I go?
- Check out your local community college. They are usually the cheapest and most convenient option. And they accept just about everybody.
- If you are disciplined enough to study on your own, you can independently study and test out of many college classes using the CLEP tests or DSST tests, usually for less than $100 per test.
- >You can search for low-cost online courses.
- If you don't care about getting credit, you can study free online courses from MIT, Stanford and other top schools.
More questions? E-mail Senior Writer Kim Clark at collegecash [at] usnews [dot] com