Don't defer dreams: economic downturn and the college decision
RELEASED: January 22, 2009
Her sacrifice may seem admirable—doing her part to help her family in a time of trouble—as well as pragmatic. After all, as she points out, her state flagship school is a great university.
However, sometimes taking time to gather more facts before making an important decision can pay big dividends down the road.
Centre's director of admission, Bob Nesmith (pictured), recently reflected on this situation, offering students several reasons not to let fear limit choices for the future.
"First, this is no time to give up on your ambitions. A challenging economic period is a time to plan wisely, no doubt. Uncertain times call for expanding your options, not contracting them. Have some colleges you know you can afford. But remember you only get to do this once. Pursue your dreams with greater fervor—and a happy alternative in your back pocket.
"Second, to eliminate any school based simply on a price-tag, before you have applied, is to make a choice before you have all the information you need. Many expensive schools have deep pockets as well as high price tags. Where cost is high, financial aid often is, too. Keep your eye on what you will actually pay—that is, net price after aid and scholarships, a figure which may be quite different than 'sticker price.' Unless you give a college the chance to consider you for scholarships and financial aid, you'll never know that net price. You may be cheating yourself out of a great (and affordable) opportunity.
"Third, be ready this spring to make some tough choices based on value, not simply cost. Paying for college is not simply a purchase, like a car. It is an investment in your own potential. The returns on that investment will come over a much longer period of time than just your undergraduate years.
"Finally, know that, in this difficult time, Centre is strengthening the College's commitment to remain financially accessible to well-qualified students. Our commitment is already strong, with 60 percent of our students receiving need-based financial aid. The average award to those students was more than $23,000 this fall. Add in students receiving merit scholarships and the percentage increases to more than 80 percent.
"In the coming year, we will increase our financial aid and scholarship budget by over $1 million, giving more in need-based grants and increasing the value of our merit-based scholarships. We will continue to use endowment grants to help a wide range of families, including many middle-class families who would never think of themselves as having "financial need." And we will give students as much information as early as we can in the process, providing financial aid estimates to Early Action applicants who submit the Early Estimate Aid Form.
"If you believe Centre or any other college is a good match for you in every important way, but you are worried about cost, I urge you to give the college a chance to help financially. Apply for admission. Apply for financial aid. Be in touch with your concerns, but don't automatically defer your dreams."
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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Consumers Digest ranks Centre No. 1 in educational value among all U.S. liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
For news archives, go to http://www.centre.edu/web/news/newsarchive.html.
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Danville, KY 40422