Budgeting

Student ImageAttending college is a big Financial Leap. Higher education costs have been increasing at more than the rate of inflation for years. It is no different at Alexandria Technical & Community College. As ATCC's base funding from the State of Minnesota continues to decrease, tuition rates have been rising. Even if you did extensive planning for your eventual higher education costs, you may not have considered the current realities of higher education funding. If you have done nothing to prepare financially for your higher education costs, you could be in for a real shock.

Financial aid programs never were and never will be intended to pay for all the costs associated with attending any higher education institution. That includes Alexandria Technical & Community College. The financial aid application process ( completing the FAFSA ) determines an expected family contribution (EFC). If parent's are providing data on the FAFSA, there are two components to the EFC – parent contribution and student contribution. If parents are not involved, obviously the EFC is only student contribution. Many families and students are shocked at the expectations for their contribution. If you have not applied before, you too may be shocked. Since the Federal and State governments have limited resources, the EFC formula really is a rationing formula as opposed to a real reflection of the costs of higher education. As was mentioned earlier, financial aid never was intended to pay the total cost.

At the risk of over simplifying, your contribution for higher education comes from three sources - money you saved, money you can squeeze out of current earnings or money you must borrow. Sixty percent of all financial aid provided for higher education in the US is in the form of loans. ATCC is no different. Our students borrow significantly. The long-term financial risk is borrowing more than you can reasonably repay. It will affect your finances and possibly your credit for many years.

Higher education affordability is a hot topic nationally. It is not a Minnesota phenomenon nor an Alexandria Technical & Community College phenomenon. But it is real. You must PLAN in order to avoid real financial problems. Following are some myths, misconceptions and suggestions that are intended to help you plan for your attendance at ATCC.

MYTHS and MISCONCEPTIONS

  • I know lots of people who have gone to college. If they made it, I must be able to make it.
  • I don't need to worry about how I am going to pay for college. It will all work out when I get there.
  • I don't need to worry about paying for college. That is my parent's responsibility.
  • I don't really need to worry about all the application stuff. I can get someone else to be responsible if things are not working out right. It will be their fault and I am off the hook.
  • I can borrow all that I need. Credit is easy and interest rates are low. Whatever it takes. I will just borrow and worry about it later.
  • I have heard about the free ride. I think I deserve a free ride. If I make enough noise, I’ll get a free ride.
  • I know somebody down the road. I heard that they got all kinds of money to go to school. I shouldn't have a problem. After all, they are far better off than us. Look at the car they drive!
  • Everybody tells me that higher education is a necessity to get a good job. If that is true, then someone owes it to me. What do they expect? Me to invest in myself??
  • Financial aid will get me all the money I need and I can also get enough financial aid to pay off my consumer debts that I had before I started school.

SUGGESTIONS

  • Take control of your higher education planning. Make it easier on yourself.
  • Do a BUDGET. If you have never done one, it is about time. We will help. You can access a Financial Aid Budget Worksheet. When you complete it, be sure to include little things. Little things add up quickly. This site also contains a wealth of information pertaining to planning for college financially. Do some browsing and you could learn a lot.
  • The cost estimates that you receive from the college admissions office do not include living expenses. If you have never lived away from home, you need to be aware of how expensive living on your own can be. If you have been on your own but you are moving to the Alexandria area for the first time, you might experience significant increases for housing. Be prepared.
  • If you are moving to Alexandria or the surrounding area shortly before school begins, be prepared for significant start up costs like utility hook up fees and damage deposits.
  • You can defer the cost of tuition, fees and lap top computer leases against the financial aid that you will receive. You cannot defer any other costs against your financial aid, unless you provide written authorization to the Business Office.
  • You can have a significant investment in your education long before you receive any of the proceeds from financial aid. The Federal and State governments expect that you make a contribution to your education and they expect it up front. DO NOT COME TO SCHOOL BROKE. Alexandria Technical & Community College does not have the resources to help you!!! If you start in the hole, you may never get out. The consequence might be that you cannot continue. Do not let that happen to you.
  • PLAN. Failing to plan is planning to fail.