Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Making College Affordable

By Linda Stern

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The college application process that dominates senior year for many high school students is always stressful, but this year it's even worse.

A report from the College Board shows that college costs continue to rise far faster than parents' salaries: In-state public schools are pushing $20,000 a year and it costs double that to attend the average private college.

At the same time, college savings account balances have fallen, other costs have risen as many parents face unemployment, debt problems and other financial challenges. And more students than ever are applying for college, providing increased competition for the most coveted seats and scholarship programs.

Feel discouraged yet? Don't be. Instead, remember that there are many, many paths to happiness and success that don't run through Harvard yard or Yale's central campus or even straight through any four-year program.

Go out and talk to folks in their mid 20s, and you'll discover many, many people in great jobs and happy relationships who transferred into (and out of) those top name brand schools, took pre-college breaks, started at community colleges, finished at their state schools or took myriad other routes to their current situations.

So avoid worrying and avoid the stress-spewing mother (you know who she is) who waits for you in the parking lot at all of the soccer games wanting to know how your kid is doing on his apps.

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