Friday, October 23, 2009

Pricey Colleges Still Hold Value

Approximately two-thirds of college students receive some sort of financial aid each year.

Another factor to the eligibility of federal financial aid is the cost of the school. Someone applying to a community college may receive less state grant aid than they might by attending a private school.

"Typically, people have turned away from private institutions because the cost may be higher," Reiber said.

But with larger awards in the forms of scholarships and grants from the private institutions themselves, along with federal financial aid, the cost "may not be that bad," he said.

"If they have particular schools they are interested in applying to, they should contact the financial aid office and start asking questions," he said.

For the 2010-11 fiscal year, the commonwealth has provided nearly $400 million in grants to college students.

That's a 3.8 percent drop from last year, Reiber said.

The maximum state grant award will be $3,541, a reduction of about $579. It is expected that the average state grant will be $2,296, and that about 185,000 students will receive some level of state support.

Before entering college and considering all of the financial stresses, however, a local technical school offers some help for high school students who want to be either be a step ahead of the game, or just want to have a good chance at a good career after graduation without attending a higher institution of learning.

SUN Area Technical Institute in New Berlin offers a dual enrollment program with Penn College, which charges $20 per college credit for high school students who want to begin their higher learning a bit early. They can earn up to nine credits through this program.

But if they don't want to attend college, according to Judy Sharer, assistant administrative director, "A student trained in entry-level to advanced skills can go directly into the workforce and earn a sustainable wage for a family."

Fields that offer the highest-paying jobs after graduation include specialized welding, precision machining and electronics technology programs.

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