Prep Talk Blog > January 2009

With a slowing economy, many students nearing college are growing worried that loans will no longer be available and school will become unaffordable. Because of these increasing concerns, some colleges and universities are taking action in the face of a troubled economy.

The University of Texas at Austin, one of the largest universities in the country, is one such school.  President William Powers recently sent an e-mail to the UT community explaining what the fifth largest public university in the nation is doing to keep costs down for students in the sour economy. 

Here are some of the efforts he mentioned: 
  • Cutting expenses by making smarter purchasing decisions and upgrading the campus electricity systems to make them more efficient
  • Investing financial gifts from donors conservatively so they do not lose as much money in the troubled stock market Pushing a fundraising campaign, Campaign for Texas, in order to get donations to help improve the school and offer more to the students (Powers says even during the Great Depression, alumni were able to donate enough money to help build several major campus buildings that remain highly used today)
  • Continuing to offer scholarships and make commitments to give financial aid (Tuition will still be covered for students whose families have income levels of less than $40,000 a year)
  • Creating provisions for students whose families have encountered job losses or other economic hardships

While the thought of starting college during this recession is daunting, some schools, such as the University of Texas, are making strong efforts to keep the costs down and assist students in need. It remains a very affordable institution at $8,090–9,354 for Texas residents and $26,672–30,770 for non-residents, which is part of what makes it so popular. Have you heard of any other schools making efforts to help during this tough time?

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Although it may seem ironic, this week's tip-off is: "Don't Believe Everything You Read in College Admissions Blogs and Forums"

Some students are frantically trying to measure their odds of acceptance in this competitive admissions landscape. "Getting in" (or not) is popular chat material according to the New York Times article entitled "College Admission Angst Finds a Forum on Web". Any reader on a college admission blog or forum can find plenty of students pleading for acceptance predictions based on comparisons of their GPA and test scores with averages from their target colleges.

As you read through posts laden with cries for help, agonies of defeat, and whoops of acceptance celebration, here's a little perspective:

Hard objective data like GPAs and test scores are just part of the picture. The accepted, rejected or "in-limbo" student blogger is subject to a lot of other forces that he may not be considering or highlighting in his post. Remember, some colleges put a lot of stock in geographic recruitment, student character as demonstrated in a subjective essay, and unique talents and interests. Bottom line: Whether the admissions department gave him a thumbs up or thumbs down has very little to do with your chances.

Sometimes, people are not exactly truthful on the web. Even so-called "college admissions experts" may have agendas, so beware. Is the blogger trying to get students to sign up for a paid service? Is he not even in the college services community and just looking to drive web traffic to his site? Watch out and read between the lines. Stick to reputable websites recommended by educators and nonprofit organizations (such as MyCollegeOptions.org), which are more likely to dispense legitimate advice.

If you ever want help evaluating a source, the My College Options® blog team (Lena , Emily and I) will be more than happy to give you our honest two cents.

Read on my friends, just be careful when talking or listening to strangers. : )


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If I had a nickel for every time that I heard this super self-defeating myth, I'd be able to pay for you to go to college!

The first truth: Very few moms or dads can afford upwards of $ 60,000 out-of-pocket for their children to go to college!

The second truth: Most students apply for and receive financial aid, especially the kids whose parents really cannot afford to send them to college.

My advice: Dry your tears and go to the FAFSA financial aid eligibility FAQ! After you submit your FAFSA, you will immediately receive a ballpark "Expected Family Contribution" calculation on the confirmation page. If after applying for federal aid, scholarships, and student loans, you are still "up a creek" financially, explore community college options which are often roughly half of state university tuitions!

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