Make College Affordable

A college education is a substantial investment in the future, but students can help avoid sticker shock, by following a few simple steps.

1. Complete the School Affordability Analyzer before you start your college search to help you determine your budget for college. Don't forget indirect costs when calculating costs for a full year. This website also has some valuable links to scholarship searches.

2. Attend financial aid nights and free workshops on paying for college as early as freshman year in high school.

3. Research private scholarships. In almost all cases, private scholarship awards will not affect financial aid from Culver-Stockton. Research early and often throughout your high school career.

4. Talk to a high school counselor about local scholarships. Early in high school, consider joining local organizations that offer scholarships.

5. Check out federal and state funding programs early to determine eligibility. Missouri has a Bright Flight Scholarship and Access Missouri Award, for example, that can be used at Culver-Stockton College. Prepare excellent scholarship essays by following directions and meeting deadlines.

6. Adhere to every deadline. Keep a list of application due dates as well as a list of required application materials for every scholarship. Then, meet those deadlines, many of which fall between March 1 and 31 each year.

7. Take the ACTs early and retake if necessary to get the highest score possible and increase eligibility for merit scholarships.

8. Score well on CLEP and AP tests. When these courses apply to college credit, they can reduce how long students pay college tuition.

9. Complete the FAFSA as soon as possible after Jan. 1. Culver-Stockton's priority deadline for maximum funding consideration is March 1. Be sure to meet that deadline and enter C-SC's code 002460 to get the information to the College, so C-SC can put together a financial aid package.

10. Complete C-SC's financial aid estimator early. Once the College has a student's completed package estimate, C-SC will earmark an aid package until the March 1 deadline.

11. Check out federal and state funding programs early to determine eligibility. Missouri has a Bright Flight program, for example, that can be used at Culver-Stockton. The College also participates in the Midwest Student Exchange Program, and students from several states surrounding Missouri can receive a 10 percent deduction on tuition.

12. Ask family members and friends to help save for College. Most states have an Independent 529 program that allows individuals to save money pre-taxes for designated students who plan to attend private colleges. Parents, grandparents, other relatives and friends can set aside money now to help students afford a private college.

13. Get a job during high school and save. Working to help save for college is an excellent source of funds and looks great on a scholarship application.

14. Consider military service to help finance college. The National Guard and other services offer such packages.

15. Consider community service such as AmeriCorps, the Peace Corps and Learn & Serve America as ways to both serve and earn college funding. These groups, and others like VISTA, Teach for America, and the National Health Service Corps, also offer college loan forgiveness programs to pay back student loans after graduation.

16. Work while in college. Students may qualify for the federal work study program program or be able to find another part-time job that allows students to pay for part of the expenses.

17. Communicate with the Financial Aid Department. If a family has special financial concerns, call or write the Culver-Stockton Director of Financial Aid and explain the situation early in the process.

18. Consider PLUS or private loans. If the financial aid package is not enough to cover the costs, many parents apply for the PLUS loan. In some cases, families will turn to private lenders for alternative loans to make up the difference between the financial aid package and the balance due.

19. Find out the payment options. Students can set up a tuition payment plan for a $65 fee to break up the tuition into 10 monthly payments. Payments also can be put on a credit card.

20. Take advantage of tax relief programs like HOPE Scholarship and Lifetime Learning credits. Check with a tax accountant about educational tax-break opportunities.