Consider This...News Tips & Topics
  Print Version   Volume 2011 Edition 17
Archive Press Room Contacts About GA Credit Unions

CONSIDER THIS: Parents and students are struggling to determine how much college is going to cost them and how they are going to pay as costs continue to rise. Many are searching for ways to plan ahead. According to, net contributions to 529 plans - college savings plans which allow for tax-free savings and interest - reached $9 billion in 2010. Additionally, many students have expanded their efforts to qualify for scholarships. Recent graduate Abby Sellers of Cumming received six scholarships in addition to the Hope scholarship and Hope grant equalization for the 2011-2012 academic year.

"My best advice is to find out in advance the deadline to apply for a particular scholarship," says Sellers. "Some of the applications I sent in for fall 2011 were due in October 2010. A lot of students miss out on great scholarships because they aren't aware of when applications are due."

College Costs
According to a study by the National Center for Education Statistics, the average yearly cost of college (including tuition, room and board) was $12,283 at public institutions and $31,233 at private institutions for the academic year of 2008-2009. The report states, "Between 1998-1999 and 2008-2009, prices for undergraduate tuition, room, and board at public institutions rose 32 percent and prices at private institutions rose 24 percent, after adjustment for inflation." These hefty figures fail to account for the deluge of other costs associated with higher education, like books, travel expenses, personal expenses, cell phone bills and transportation.

In Georgia, recent changes to the lottery-funded Hope Scholarship will increase costs for most students. Scholarships will be reduced to 90 percent for all students except those with the highest grades and SAT scores, and funding for books and mandatory fees will also be eliminated. An increasing number of students work while going to school, or choose to work for several years before entering college to help pay for tuition, books, living expenses and other college costs. Some even opt to begin studies at a community college to complete core curriculum requirements at a lower tuition rate.

You may want to know:

  1. What are some tips for saving money for college?
  2. When should I start saving for my child's college education?
  3. What is the best way to save for my child's college education?
  4. Can I predict the future cost of my child's college education?
  5. Do colleges estimate additional costs beyond tuition?
  6. Where do college applicants start to search for financial aid?
  7. What qualifications do students need to have to be considered for academic scholarships?
  8. When do families begin to incur expenses related to college preparation?
  9. How many students graduate with student loans they must repay?

An insider’s perspective:

According to Randy Weed, president of University Health Federal Credit Union in Augusta, the most important thing parents can do to be ready to pay for college is to start early. "It's obvious advice, but it is vital," explains Weed. "Your child's first birthday is not too soon to start saving. Find a 529 plan and make it a carved-in-stone part of your budget." Weed explains that even a modest amount of advanced preparation each year can help to limit the amount of private student loans necessary to make up the difference between savings and the cost of college. "It can be daunting to graduate with a large amount of debt," says Weed. "I've seen people end up with $60,000 in student loans. That kind of debt can handicap a young person's financial stability for years. Every dollar you save in advance is an investment in your child's future."

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*Views and opinions expressed on these videos do not necessarily reflect those of Georgia Credit Union Affiliates.

Additional Information
College Decision Time: How to Weigh the True Cost: This article explains how the time it takes a student to graduate will affect overall costs. It provides information on where to look for statistics relating to specific colleges so students can make informed decisions.
Pay for College: This site features links to information on how to pay for college as well as where to look for scholarships and grants.
How to Pay for College on Your Own: This article from Kiplinger details the story of one student who is paying for college himself and will graduate in 2012 debt free.
The True Cost of College: This article examines the costs associated with testing, preparation and the college application process that begins well before a student is ready to begin his or her college career.
Break Down the Bill: This article outlines some of the "additional" costs of a college education and compares tuition costs at state versus private schools and 4-year schools versus 2-year schools.

State Contacts

Anita Paul
Director of Communications, GCUA

Local Contacts

Georgia Credit Union Affiliates