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SPOTLIGHT

Dreaming Big, Playing it Smart: Planning and Paying for College


Planning for college is an exciting process. As with any hopeful future scenario, it can be fun to dream big, to play with the possibilities for life after high school. What do you want to major in? What is your dream college? How much fun will college be, and how much will you learn?

But of course going to college is also complicated, involving lots of steps along the way: taking the right high school courses, studying for standardized tests, applying to schools, and figuring out how to pay for it. In fact, it's this last item that seems to give people the most headaches. While people know that college costs are rising, and that they need to start saving as early as possible, many people are still surprised by unexpected expenses. You may not have thought about the cost of living in the city you'll be studying in, for example, or that the rent for your off-campus apartment may go up quicker than you thought.

Whatever the reason, students in college often discover that they need financial aid when they didn't expect to. There's no perfect formula for figuring out how much money college will cost and whether you'll have enough. The costs for things like tuition and books change every semester and depend on the college or university you select.

To help you plan for all your college expenses, AIE has a section devoted to Paying for College, where you'll find explanations of topics ranging from what's included in a college's Cost of Attendance to whether you should borrow money to pay for college to working while in school. Check it out: http://www.aie.org/paying-for-college/index.cfm