Make the Most of Your College Visits with Tips and Resources from Sallie Mae

New Research from Nation’s Saving, Planning, and Paying for College Company Highlights Factors Families Should Consider When Visiting Schools

Thursday, August 18, 2016 9:13 am EDT

Dateline:

NEWARK, Del.

Public Company Information:

NASDAQ:
SLM
"With a rising high school senior at home, I understand that visiting schools means more miles on the odometer and lots of information to process"

NEWARK, Del.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Back-to-school season is in full swing and while most associate it with school supplies, sales, and the last days of summer, it’s also a great time to visit college campuses. In fact, campus visits are now a year-round activity, and millions of high school students will tour college campuses this fall, considering everything from campus culture to costs. As families are hitting the road to college, Sallie Mae reveals how the average American family ranks these important factors, and how they’re finding ways to make college more affordable.

According to “How America Pays for College 2016,” the annual study from Sallie Mae and Ipsos, the primary reasons families ultimately chose a college were split between the academic program (31 percent) and personal choice (31 percent), which includes campus culture, extracurricular activities, and size of the student body. Touring a campus can be the ideal time to get a better sense of these key factors in choosing a college. A stop at the financial aid office can help families get educated on college costs and available scholarships, grants, and financial aid.

Here are a few tips from Sallie Mae to help families heading out to visit colleges:

  1. Map your course.
    A little planning can go a long way, so take time to prioritize your search and rank the schools on your itinerary beforehand. Sign up for the tour and information session on the school’s website. If you can’t make it to campus in person, check to see if the school offers a virtual tour. In addition, you can research costs with Sallie Mae’s College Planning Calculator to estimate the current and future cost of any school.
  2. Know the route details.
    Similar to a road trip with unexpected tolls, when it comes to college, tuition likely won’t be your only expense. Consider additional costs such as meal plans, transportation expenses, and course supplies. While on campus, visit the bookstore and, after you pick out your favorite sweatshirt, ask about the typical costs for books each semester. Bonus points if you visit off-campus bookstores and ask about pre-owned books and materials.
  3. Meet the locals.
    While touring campuses, attend a class, and seek out professors and current students in addition to the tour guide, to learn more about the coursework and culture on campus. Explore the areas surrounding campus to see if it’s somewhere you can see yourself spending time.
  4. Consider alternate routes.
    Keep an open mind. When you combine estimated expenses with other factors like school size, degree programs, and location, the end results may be intimidating. Remember the sticker price isn’t necessarily what you’ll end up paying for a school and there are tools, resources, and strategies that can help make college more affordable. For example, Scholarship Search by Sallie Mae provides free access to 5 million scholarships worth more than $24 billion. In addition, “How America Pays for College 2016” finds the overwhelming majority of families (98 percent) implement strategies to make college more affordable. Things like attending college in your home state, taking college-level courses while in high school, and working while in school can make a significant difference.
  5. Review your trip summary.
    Take notes while touring each campus, and be sure to keep track of likes and dislikes. Then, regroup using Sallie Mae’s College Ahead App, which features a College Scorecard that lets you compare and rank colleges you visited, and a calendar to keep track of important milestones and application deadlines.

“With a rising high school senior at home, I understand that visiting schools means more miles on the odometer and lots of information to process,” said Martha Holler, senior vice president, Sallie Mae. “This is such an exciting time in your child’s life, and it is an emotional one, too. That’s why it is so important to have a game plan for how you are going to pay for college. After all, college is a major investment, and you want to feel confident you have made an informed decision.”

Sallie Mae recommends students and families follow its 1-2-3 approach to paying for college: first, maximize money that does not need to be repaid, such as scholarships and grants; second, explore federal student loans; and, third, consider a responsible private student loan.

For free planning-for-college resources, visit salliemae.com/planforcollege. For information on how families are paying for college, visit salliemae.com/howamericapaysforcollege.

Sallie Mae (NASDAQ: SLM) is the nation’s saving, planning, and paying for college company. Whether college is a long way off or just around the corner, Sallie Mae offers products that promote responsible personal finance, including private education loans, Upromise rewards, scholarship search, college financial planning tools, and online retail banking. Learn more at SallieMae.com. Commonly known as Sallie Mae, SLM Corporation and its subsidiaries are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.

Contact:

Sallie Mae
Abigail Brooks, 302-451-0230
abigail.brooks@salliemae.com