Collegiate Funding

By: Denise Walker, College Counseling

Kindergarten to college, it happens in the blink of an eye. Therefore, it is importantto start saving for college early.  Speak with your financial advisor about retirement, college savings, and investments early in the planning process.  There are many ways to fund college, and there isn’t one clear path.  Let’s discuss some of these options….

The cost of college tuition continues to increase each year, but college costs are much more than tuition.  College costs can also include: orientation fees, freshman fees, campus fees, room and board, books, a meal plan, lab fees, transportation fees, athletic fees, tech fees, and commencement fees.  These fees don’t even include the cost of visiting colleges throughout the college search process. Needless to say, college is expensive.  However, there are things that can be done to relieve some of the financial burden with early planning.

Students can increase their chances of receiving tuition assistance, scholarships, merit aid, and grants by earning good grades in high school.  Most colleges set grade point average (GPA) minimums for students to obtain, or keep, tuition assistance.  Encouraging strong study skills and attention to strong academic performance is key.

What is tuition assistance?  There are several types of tuition assistance, including grants, merit based aid, scholarships, work-study, and loans.  Tuition assistance can consist of any combination of these.  Scholarships and grants do not need to be repaid.   Work-study programs enable students to work part-time at the college.  Loans should be a last resort and MUST be repaid, usually with interest.

How can you help?  Work with your child to help him or her develop good study habits.  Stress the importance of studying and taking courses that will set them up for success.  Encourage them to compete in local essay contests in high school, as many award cash prizes.  The scholarship process should never hinder a student’s academic success; rather it should be an ongoing process.

We all know procrastination is every teenager’s middle name.  This is where the parent’s encouragement and attentiveness to what their child is doing is imperative.  There are scholarships for every student; they just require time and attention to detail.  Every child’s maturity level and drive is different.  However, as a general rule, junior and senior year seem to be the best time to start looking at scholarships.

The cost of college depends on choices you and your family make.  Become familiar with terms like FAFSA and the CSS Profile.   It is also important to know if there are in-state benefits such as the HOPE Scholarship or the Tennessee Promise Scholarship.  Tennessee residents can earn the HOPE Scholarship, a scholarship worth $16,000 over four years, if they graduate with a 3.0 (GPA) or score a 21 on the ACT.   The Tennessee Promise will pay for a community college or trade school if the student satisfies the requirements and meets the deadlines.

Remember, it is important for families to discuss the cost of college, and to consider and plan what works for your individual family.

What to Look for When Choosing Private Education

By: Christie Burger, Admissions

As part two of private vs. public education series, we want to look more deeply at what parents should look for when choosing private education.  Private education is an increasingly popular option for many families and one that may be the right fit for yours.

Here are a few questions to ask as you begin the process of choosing a school. 

  1. What is the philosophy of the school? It is important to make sure the philosophy of the school matches what your family is looking for in educational goals, as well as values. 
  1. Is the faculty of high quality and committed to challenging students to reach their potential? When looking at the quality of education, you have to start with a strong faculty. Dedicated, well-trained teachers are the key to a strong high-quality education. Ask the levels of education, years of experience, and certifications held by the faculty.
  1. How involved can I be as a parent? Independent schools have many opportunities for parent involvement.  Ask about parent organizations, policies for volunteering, and ability to visit on campus with your student. Partnership in your child’s education can go along way in their educational development.
  1. What extracurricular opportunities are available for students? Education is the main focus of schools, but the extracurricular opportunities can truly shape the student’s experience during their school years. See what clubs, sports, and organizations are available for your child’s age group. 
  1. What is the success rate of the school’s graduates regarding progressions to secondary education, as well as, awarded scholarships? For high school students, progressing to the college level, and college acceptance rates should be a priority of most independent schools.  Ask the guidance office, what the rate is for college acceptances for the graduating classes, ACT/SAT score averages, and scholarship amounts awarded each year. 
  1. What is the student profile and admission requirements? Ask yourself, does your child fit the type of student that each school’s student body represents? Ask each school what their requirements are for admissions and see if those characteristics are also important to your family’s goals. 
  1. How happy are the students and faculty? Happy students say so much about a school. They are generally more enthusiastic, eager to learn, and ultimately become successful. A teacher that is happy and content is one that will form a partnership with each family and provide a solid educational experience.

As you begin your search, make a list of these things and the qualities you most want in a school. Keep in mind that no one school is perfect, or will meet all of the criteria on your list. However, you want to select the school that best fits your student, family values, and educational goals. 

Begin Your Journey.