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Why College Pays

Parents around the Commonwealth are taking steps to calm their kids–and themselves–as the time nears to choose a college.

Dan Lundquist, dean of admissions at Union College in Schenectady, New York, suggests that parents and their high school-age child visit campuses together but take separate tours. That way you can ask all the questions you want without embarrassing the child, he said in a Wall Street Journal interview.

College entrance competition
There are good reasons for students and their parents to be anxious. Competition to get into top universities is tough, and professors are under pressure to let only the cream of the crop fill a declining number of seats. Total college enrollment in all degree-granting institutions has increased 26 percent since 1990, while acceptance rates at some top schools are decreasing. The University of California at Los Angeles, for example, accepted about 27 percent of applicants in 2005, down from 29 percent in 1999.

Cost of college pays
The cost of tuition, fees, and room and board has nearly doubled in 20 years, rising to an average $29,026 for private schools and $12,127 for public colleges, according to College Board’s Trends in College Pricing study.

But education pays. 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 versus $2.1 million, according to the Census Bureau.

College Board (www.collegeboard.com) says that by age 33, the typical college grad has earned enough to compensate for the cost of a public-college education and for the four years of earnings “lost” while attending college.

Managing personal finance
Meanwhile, college years can be a good time to work on your finances. Kiplinger’s personal finance magazine found in interviews of college seniors this advice for incoming college freshmen: “Don’t go over your phone minutes and rein in your impulse buying at the 7-Eleven convenience store,” the two biggest drains on student pocketbooks.


ONLINE COLLEGE HELP

Finaid.com or fastaid.com
Savingforcollege.com for comparisons of investment returns and info on 529 tuition-savings plans
Guaranteedscholarships.com for unusual scholarships
Collegescholarships.com for free scholarship searches
Salary.com for expected salary upon graduation

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