Monday, February 18, 2008
For seniors, this time of the year is one that requires patience and instills both relief and anxiety. Relief comes from the fact that college applications have been submitted and seniors no longer need to stress over the laborious and repetitive admissions process, while anxiety comes from the fact that they now have to wait for acceptance letters which may very well determine the substance of their future lives.
"Yea, I'm really nervous about acceptance letters. I mean, to me, there's a huge difference between attending UC Merced and UC Berkeley. Not to put down those who choose to go to UC Merced, but your best case scenario after attending UC Merced looks bleak in comparison to UC Berkeley," says Huu Nguyen, grade twelve.
When acceptance letters do arrive, how do we decide? Do we go to the small liberal arts school with an average of fifteen students per class? Or do we go to the well‑publicized and well‑populated public school with as many as five‑hundred students in a class? Do we stay in California to be near our loved ones? Or do we attend school in the east coast to finally achieve the privacy and independence many have been deprived of? Although these are all factors in helping students to decide which college to attend, perhaps one of the most important is price.
Daniel Tong, grade twelve, says, "Yeah, money's gonna be an issue when decision time comes. I don't live paycheck to paycheck, but it's not like my parents rake in six figures though
The cost of education has risen, especially in California, due to our state's debt. Because of this debt, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has cut financing on education, and because the University of California and California State University are not privatized, increases in tuition have been deemed inevitable. This is very bad news to prospective college‑bound students, seeing as how full‑ride scholarships are extremely hard to come by.
However, there are some financial solutions that many students had been unaware of: there are hundreds and thousands of scholarships out there, corporations and groups with free money waiting to be taken by those who seize the opportunity. Websites, such as Fastweb.com and Scholarships.com, have listings of scholarships available to students. And no, you do not have to be super intelligent to win this free money. There are all sorts of scholarships for people with unusual talents, abilities, previous history, etc. There are scholarships for left‑handed people, tall people, short people, and the list goes on.
"At first, I was really worried about how I was gonna pay for college, but last year, my English teacher told me about Fastweb.com and all the different scholarships that can help pay for my education," says Damanbir Sandhu, grade twelve.
Perhaps, the most prevalent sources of financial aid for college‑bound students are the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and the Cal Grant. The FAFSA is a federally‑funded program, and all you need to do is fill out basic background information and your family's income. With the applications, scholarships will be distributed by each student's need. The Cal Grant is grade point average‑based and can be found in the James Logan Career Center. All you need is to have your counselor fill out a small section detailing your performance in school, and the state will distribute money by the students level of academic achievement.
The resources are there. It is our job to take advantage of these opportunities and seek a knowledgeable and prosperous future.