Friday, October 23, 2009

Pricey Colleges Still Hold Value

A few miles away at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, the tuition is lower — $32,050 last year. Sixty-eight percent of enrolled students demonstrated financial need, according to Helen Nunn, director of financial aid at Susquehanna. The average aid award was $24,827. Of that amount, just more than $19,000 came in the form of scholarships and grants, and the remainder — $5,812 per student — came in the form of student loans and part-time jobs.

May graduates who borrowed from the need-based federal student loan programs borrowed an average of just over $15,000.

According to Nunn, "This would require a monthly repayment amount in the range of $165 over the 10 years of repayment."

Tuition at the Pennsylvania College of Technology, Williamsport, is much less — $13,080 per year.

Grants and federal student loans for a typical student at Penn College total about $12,309, said Dennis Correll, associate dean for admissions and financial aid.

Salaries of graduates from the school have ranged anywhere from $20,000 to $60,000 a year.

"It will depend on the degree focus and where they settle in the country," Correll said. "Larger cities, of course, pay much more for some majors."

The most popular programs at Penn College are in the health, business and construction fields. There is also an increase in interest for the building science and sustainable design majors, due to the growing popularity of "green" careers and the natural gas industry, Correll said.

Financial aid is not only based on a person's income level, said Mike Reiber, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, but also on factors such as how many people in the family are in college at the same time, how many people are living in their residence and whether there was a change in the family's employment status.

"We do encourage everyone to fill out a FAFSA (free application for federal student aid)," Reiber said. "They might be pleasantly surprised."

"If you don't, you just limited your options for everything but scholarships and private loans," he said.

And private loans typically have significantly higher interest rates than federal ones, he added.

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