What Can You Afford?
It’s probably the least fun, most stressful, opposite-of-what-you-want-to-be-thinking-about part of college acceptances, but you have to figure out how big finances feature in your decisions. If you get offered full scholarships, that’s super exciting! If you’re offered partial scholarships, it is also super exciting, but means doing a lot more number crunching to figure out which school makes the most financial AND academic sense to attend before you can make those all-important college decisions. Will the scholarships cover textbooks? Dorms & dining halls? Can you afford to pay the difference between what they’re offering you and the full tuition? There’s probably a way to make it happen, but make sure you think about everything.
If prospective colleges can’t offer you any money, you can look into work-study programs, part-time jobs, or the ubiquitous student loans. But be careful about taking out private loans – a lot of the big companies have really high interest rates, and you may be carrying around debt from tuition for longer than you’d think. Financial aid can be tricky to figure out on your own, and you should never be shy about calling your potential colleges to talk to one of their financial aid officers about any questions or concerns you may have—even before you start.