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College Financial Aid

Those going back to school this year are finding tuition and other costs up by 10 percent, at least double the rate of inflation. Add room and board, books, transportation, and other expenses, and the cost climbs to about $15,000 a year at a public university and more than $30,000 at a private school, says the College Board.

But education pays.

Payback is high
Over the past 20 years, men and women with the most education have had the fastest growth in wages, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The average new high school graduate will make $900,000 less than a college graduate over his or her career: $1.2 million vs. $2.1 million, according to the Census Bureau.

The College Board admissions organization says that by age 33 the typical college grad has earned enough to compensate for the cost of a public-college education and for four years of earnings “lost” while attending college.

Student aid and loans
The American Council on Education says that two-thirds of undergraduates have student loans, and that those loans average about $17,000. Additionally, it estimates that 80 percent of undergrads work while they are in school, with the average student working roughly 25 hours a week.

About half of all students in postsecondary schools receive some financial aid. But more and more of that aid is coming in the form of loans, not grants; student loans now account for nearly 60 percent of all financial aid, compared with a little more than 40 percent in the early 1980s.

Middle-class families are being helped by federal tax deductions for tuition, which have about doubled to $6.3 billion since they were introduced in 1999.

But financial aid can go only so far and some cash will be needed.



COLLEGE FINANCIAL AID

One of the better how-to books: Paying for College Without Going Broke, by financial consultant Kalman Chany.

On the Web, try these sites:
www.finaid.com and www.fastaid.com for financial help

www.savingforcollege.com for comparisons of investment returns and other features of the various state 529 tuition-savings plans

www.guaranteedscholarships.com for unusual scholarships

www.collegescholarships.com for free scholarship searches

www.salary.com to learn expected salary upon graduation

Research by Barbara Betts

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