FILTER THE NEGATIVE MESSAGES
Does a week go by without the press or a politician talking about the plight of college-bound students? How do you separate what is real from that which is more about peddling papers and vying for votes? Did campaign promises work their way through Congress? Did pinched state budgets eliminate college grant assistance? Is there a federal “stimulus package” for students?More to the point, how will all this affect you and your college choice? While we won’t claim to have answers to all the questions, we do want to set some context for the discussion, offer our perspective as a university and provide some information and advice that we think you’ll find helpful in the coming months.
KEEP YOUR OPTIONS OPEN
Here are three things we do know. You will be joining millions of other students in our nation’s colleges and universities next fall. You will do so during an extremely challenging period for our nation’s economy. And you’re certainly not alone if you’re concerned about how all of this may affect your college planning.
Anytime you find yourself with a set of questions no one can answer, the best advice we can give you is to keep ALL your options open. That means applying to the universities you believe will best meet your needs. You won’t have to make a final decision until next May and, by that time, the college affordability picture is likely to be much clearer.
In the meantime, here’s what you should know about state, federal and Quincy University responses to the economic challenges facing many students.
STATE AND FEDERAL RESPONSES
State responses, of course, will vary depending on where you live. Some state grant programs have remained stable this year while others have been trimmed. If you live in a state where funds have been cut back, realize that this is a temporary solution to a budget problem. As our country comes out of the recession, both state budgets and state grant programs will recover. Don’t make a decision for next year based on legislative decisions made last year.
The federal government also provides grant assistance. For students with financial need, the maximum Pell Grant is $5,550.
QUINCY UNIVERSITY RESPONSES
In a period when many private colleges are experiencing a decline in enrollment, new student enrollment at Quincy University remains strong with the third largest freshman group in over 15 years! Reasonable tuition, increased scholarship assistance and a commitment to graduate people in four years all play a role in that growth.
Because private colleges don’t receive taxpayer support, they do cost more than public universities. In addition, there are added costs to maintain the smaller class sizes that create a personalized education for every student. Full-time professors cost more than graduate teaching assistants. There are costs for ensuring that every student has access to internship and other practical experiences that are especially important to your success in a tight job market. While we make these spending decisions carefully, we’re also passionate about the quality of the learning experience that every student has.
However, private college tuitions and the financial aid they offer vary widely. It pays to make careful comparisons. The cost to attend Quincy University is significantly lower than at many private colleges. Here in Illinois, for instance, QU’s costs are much closer to those at the University of Illinois than they are to the costs at similar private Illinois schools. For the 2012- 2013 academic year, QU’s cost for tuition, fees, housing and meals is $34,980.
EARLY SCHOLARSHIP AWARDING
We realize that lower costs alone won’t solve the problem for most of our students. Starting immediately, you can expect an admission decision within a week of the time you complete your application. Then, with no separate application required, a scholarship offer will follow in approximately ten days.
Most QU freshmen receive scholarship offers that range from $8,000 to $15,000 per year. These renewable awards will directly reduce your tuition and, by making the awards early, we also hope to reduce some of the stress you and your family may be experiencing. This is the first step in building your financial aid package.
FILE THE FAFSA
You should hear this advice repeatedly from every university you consider. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is available online after January 1. This determines eligibility for need-based grants, loans and campus employment from state and federal governments. It also determines your eligibility for additional grant assistance from Quincy University.
Far too many families make incorrect assumptions about eligibility for need-based assistance. While lower-cost public institutions may be a good fit for some students, if you feel like you’re compromising your educational goals just to find lower tuition, file the FAFSA. Before you make a decision, gather the information you need to make a GOOD decision.
GRADUATING ON TIME
An increasing number of economists agree that the single most important financial aspect of the college decision relates to how long it takes you to complete a four-year degree. Nationwide, only one of every four students completes a degree in four years. It’s not just about spending additional years of tuition. It’s about when you hit the job market...and the earnings that you can never make up. We’ll explore this further in the November segment of the Affordability Series.
For now, keep ALL your options open. Apply to the universities that can best meet your needs. If Quincy University is one of those schools, we’ll work with you at every step of the way to help you make a good college decision...and to find a way to pay for it.