Best Kept Secrets to Funding Your College Education

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A modern day poet once wrote, “mo’ money, mo’ problems.”  Guess that guy never had to pay for college.  As a senior, it can be quite daunting for you (and if not you, your parents) to think about how you’re going to be able to afford a solid college education.  We hear that all the time in the Admissions Office.  “There’s no way I can afford to go to a private university.”  Or “Yeah, MC is great and all, but I just can’t afford it.”

I get that.  My family was in the same boat not too long ago.  I had a hopeful longing to attend Mississippi College –- it was the only school I was interested in, really.  But could we afford it? 

Well after scholarships were all said and done, it turned out that MC was more affordable than the state universities I compared it too.  Fast forward four years, when I began to work full time in the Admissions Office, and that became my mission –- to educate families on the fact that MC is actually an affordable option. 

The educational experience you get at MC is a pretty unbelievable value in the market of higher private education.

There are many ways to help you pay for your college education –- institutional scholarships, the FAFSA, state aid, metal detectors, extreme couponing….  And know that your Admissions Counselor will be the one to help you through that entire process, helping you figure out how to make MC affordable.  

But in the meantime, I wanted to give you a few other ideas that may help you pay for school (whether it be MC or somewhere else).  Because let’s face it: choosing your college home is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make in your life (no pressure!).  Keep in mind too that you get what you pay for, and an investment in the next few years may pay off in extraordinary ways the rest of your life.  

Other ways to fund College

  • Outside scholarships.  There are tons of outside scholarships out there you can apply for.  Everything from scholarships for left-handed red heads to money for making your own prom attire out of duct tape (yes, it exists). There are a lot out there. To begin the great hunt for outside $$$, I suggest talking with your high school guidance counselor.  They’ll be the perfect source to know what students from your high school typically qualify for.  From there, you can also check with your local chamber of commerce, your church, or corporations.  Every little bit helps, so start early in the year before deadlines pop up!  Here are a few other suggestions to check out:
  • MS Baptist Foundation Scholarship -- awarded to Mississippi residents who attend a Baptist institution in the state of Mississippi (hey, that’s us!).

  • Cola-Cola Scholarships -- Coke provides $3.4 million in annual scholarships to its award winners.  Classic move, Coke.  This is one example in the sea of businesses that award scholarships.
    • Community-based organizations like Rotary Club often provide scholarships to students within the community.
    • Major-related scholarships/loan forgiveness.  There are several of these programs, specifically for education or nursing majors; i.e. the William Winters Scholarship --Education majors may receive a $4,000 per year scholarship for their junior and senior years.  GPA requirement and other restrictions may apply.  
    • Frequently browsing sites like get2college.org, fastweb.com, and zinch.com that provide lists of available scholarships.
  • Keep taking the ACT/SAT.  Many colleges have an ACT or SAT/scholarship cut-off deadline around December, but (fun fact) MC does not.  You can take the ACT up until your enrollment date, and we’ll award you based on your highest score.  
  • Get a job!  Studies show you’ll have more free time in college than you will in any other time of your life.  And while you’ll fill up some of that free time with studying, extracurriculars, and probably some Call of Duty, you’ll still have time to fit in some work hours in your week.  If you work 15 hours per week at minimum wage, you’ll bring it around $1,500 per semester.  If money is an obstacle for you to attend your university of choice, I suggest brokering a deal with your parents by agreeing to contribute X amount per year to help pay for school.  
  • Have a heart to heart with your Admissions Counselor.  Be up front with your Admissions Counselor so they can be sure you leave no stone unturned.  They are your advocates who are trying to get you as much money as they can because they want you to have the same experience they had.  
  • Payment plans.  This isn’t so much “mo money” as it is another ingredient to affordability.  At MC, and at most institutions, you can opt into payment plans, breaking up your balance into more digestible monthly payments.  So say if you owe $8,000 for the year, instead of writing a $4,000 check at the beginning of each semester, you can opt into a payment plan and break your payments over several months during the course of the year.  Makes things a little easier.
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I do want to mention loans in regards to affordability as well.  Many families are adverse to loans, and I understand not wanting to shoulder unwanted debt.  But FYI, approximately 80% of our student body has taken out some kind of loan to help pay for school.  I say this so you know that loans are fairly common when it comes to paying for your collegiate education.  Plus, loans are pretty moldable.  You may be offered a $5,500 Stafford loan, but you have the choice to take out however much you would like – whether it be the full $5,500 or just $5.  It’s up to you!  Also, loan repayment doesn’t kick in until 6 months after your graduation date.  Even if you go on to grad school, medical school, law school, etc., your loans will be deferred until you are out for good after 6 months.  This gives you a chance to get out and get on your newfound financial feet before payments are due.

Even though MC is about $10,000 less than the average private university, money is the number one hold up we hear about in Admissions.  What I’m encouraging you to do is make sure you know your financial options and also make sure you weigh the value of what you’re getting for what you pay for.   Use your Admissions Counselor as a guide to help you navigate these waters.   If you want to be at MC, we want you here and will do everything we can to make sure that MC is a financially viable option for you.  I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find out just how affordable MC can be.

Kyle
Director of Admissions
Self-claimed chef, LOTR enthusiast, dormant runner

 

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