How to pay for college may be one of the first major financial decisions you will make in your lifetime. The decisions you make today will impact your future ability to buy a car, buy a home and save for retirement. No pressure! Taking time now to understand your financial picture and make a plan will put you in control of your money.
This isn’t something that takes 10 minutes. It takes time. Follow the steps below to understand the costs of college and to make a plan to cover those costs.
A credit hour is a unit measuring educational credit. It is based on the number of hours you spend in class each week. For example, you can expect to spend three hours in class each week for a three credit course.
A full-time student at ACC takes at least four classes per semester (12 or more credit hours). A part-time student is enrolled for fewer than 12 credit hours per semester.
What classes will you take? How many credit hours are those classes? Find your own Award Plan by selecting your Area of Study here.
Use our budgeting template to create your budget for the entire semester.
Being a college student is temporary. Commit to living like one. Examine your expenses and see if there are any ways you can reduce your expenses. Be clear on what you need versus what you want. You may have to give up some of those wants for a bit, or at least cut way back.
Even if you think you don’t qualify, complete the FAFSA. It’s free. The FAFSA screens your eligibility for need based grants including the Federal Pell grant. Grants are money that don’t have to be repaid. Many scholarships will require that you’ve at least completed the FAFSA before considering you for a scholarship. Just complete it.
Need help completing the FAFSA? Visit one of ACC’s FAFSA Frenzies, or contact the College Financial Aid Assistance Program at Foundation Communities (both provide free assistance completing the FAFSA).
Only after you’ve reduced your expenses, committed to applying for scholarships, and know exactly what your gap is, consider Federal student loans. To receive a Federal student loan, you have to complete the FAFSA (step five) and visit one of ACC’s financial aid offices. You may be offered more than what you need…only take what you need. Also, understand how much you’ll have to pay back once you’re no longer in school by playing with the Repayment Estimator.
Learn More: Student Loans
Learn More: College Scorecard
The U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard ensures families have the most up-to-date, comprehensive, and reliable information available on colleges, all in an easy-to-understand format. The site allows visitors to sort and filter their search results to easily compare schools and decide which college makes the most sense when considering the typical costs, average student loan amount, students’ ability to repay their loans, and their future earnings.
Learn More: My College Money Plan
MyCollegeMoneyPlan.org is a free online course to help students and their families learn how to plan for the costs of education or training after high school.