Workshop offers tips on college

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Lincoln County parents and students have been educated on theexpenses of a college education the past week during three seminarson college funding opportunities.

Those who have missed the seminars have one more chance to learnhow they can save money for college and apply for scholarships,grants and loans to pay for the valuable career tool.

The final workshop, presented by College Fund Life Division,will be held from 6-7 p.m. Thursday at West Lincoln AttendanceCenter’s gymnasium.

“This is just a public relations effort to let parents know whatto look for,” said Tom Welch, divisional director of College FundLife Division.

During Tuesday’s seminar at Loyd Star Attendance Center, Welcheducated attendees about the costs of college per year. On anaverage, Duke University would cost a student $34,000 next year,and a public university in Mississippi would cost around $12,000,according to research information.

Welch showed how those costs could be covered in many ways, suchas savings, assets and loans. He explained that eight out of 10Mississippi students borrow money to go to college.

“The issue is when they come out of college in debt,” hesaid.

Financial aid in the form of grants and scholarships cansignificantly decrease the amount borrowed by students or parents.Welch suggested students get on the Internet to search for freescholarships through the site www.fastweb.com.

Students can find out if scholarship opportunities arelegitimate by logging onto www.finaid.org/scholarships/

Welch explained that students should not wait until the lastminute to look for and apply for scholarships.

“Most of the colleges are going to make their scholarshipdecisions early,” he said. “Students should really start working onit before or during Christmas break.”

College preparation, however, should ideally begin years beforewith the ACT test, which serves as a measuring tool forscholarships.

Students could take the test once a year beginning in theseventh grade, said Welch, to maximize their score. They shouldalso take advantage of study aides, such as flash cards andworkshops, so they might get a higher score, which in turn couldbring more scholarship money for the student.

The seminar, which is offered to parents of children of any age,shows that parents should also start preparations early by savingmoney for their child’s education.

“In Mississippi over the last 48 months, college cost has wentup 19.8 percent, and it will probably keep going up,” said Welch,adding that parents of a one-year-old should put back $336 a monthto be able to afford their child’s education.

He strongly urges parents not to take out loans, and forstudents to be careful what type of loans they take to cover thepart of college not covered by scholarships.

During the seminars, Welch offers a jam-packed hour ofinformation about how and where to look for money for college.Registration for Thursday’s seminar begins at 5:45 p.m.