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No Title 1496

Supplement to “Student Loan Strategies”

How does your decision to take an easy math class in high school affect your wallet in college?

If students don’t graduate from high school prepared for college by taking a rigorous curriculum, their need for remedial coursework will eat into their loans and KEES (Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship) money, thereby adding to students’ expense and reliance on loans.

“How students prepare themselves for college might reduce their overall costs,” says Jim Applegate, vice president for academic affairs at the Kentucky Council on Post Secondary Education. “And students can’t afford not to go to college: it’s basically a $1 million decision. It will cost them that much in lost income over a lifetime.”

Because college developmental or remedial courses do not count toward graduation, they become a financial aid issue that students will face at some point in their college career.

“Students in these classes are beginning college behind the starting line and paying tuition—using up financial aid just getting to the starting line,” he says. “With the Federal Pell program, there is an ‘hours attempted’ limit. Students will start a credit-bearing course, realize they are not prepared for it and then drop it.

“This is relevant because of the ‘hours attempted’ limit. If students keep taking courses and dropping them, they’ll hit the limit on Pell and lose their Pell money.”

There is also a time limit for use of state KEES financial aid. Students attending college on a part-time basis or taking developmental courses (which don’t count toward graduation) can get set back a year or more in their progress toward graduation and discover the KEES scholarship support is no longer available.

According to Applegate, a portion of Kentucky dropouts seen in the junior year may be because students are losing their funding.

The bottom line: students need to map out a strategy in high school for success in college. That means taking a rigorous course load (four years of English, four years of math, etc.) to be prepared for a college curriculum.

“Don’t lay off during senior year,” says Applegate. “You may pay for it in college.”

To read the Kentucky Living February 2007 feature that goes along with this supplement, click here: Student Loan Strategies

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