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
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
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
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.
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
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.