by Ari Worthman, director of college counseling
In 2004, the total cost of attendance at Haverford College reached $40,000. I was a second-year admissions officer, and my colleagues and I worried whether this new threshold would be too high. Would families pay $40,000, especially when in-state public universities were less than half the cost?
It turned out our fears were unfounded. Haverford College, along with most selective private colleges who reached the $40,000 mark the same year, filled its classes. For more than a decade since then, college costs, including tuition, fees, room and board, have drastically risen.
Today, attending Haverford costs just shy of $67,000, a price tag similar to most selective private colleges, and higher than the median income of U.S. families. Current projections show that costs will continue to rise.
But while many families continue to pony up these daunting sums, others, including some at Lakeside, find themselves drawing the line.
I hear from many Lakeside families who do not have the resources to pay, and others who are reluctant because they'd have to make extensive sacrifices.
The college counseling office is dedicated to helping families identify affordable college options. Below is a sampling of how:
- Programming. For years, the college counseling office has offered "Applying for Financial Aid: The Nitty Gritty" for all parents and guardians. We host the program twice —at Lakeside in the morning and at the Rainier Vista Boys and Girls Club in the evening — and address the cost of college by institution type (i.e. public, private, international, etc.), how financial aid eligibility is determined, the process for applying, and how to obtain merit scholarships. You can watch a video of our Oct. 19 presentation here, and find it under College Counseling Resources on the Parents and Guardians webpage.
- Resources. Colleges can make it hard for families and schools to decode the cost of college (read more about cost clarity in higher education in this New York Times article). Lakeside's college counseling office's detailed guide, "College Costs, Scholarships and Financial Aid," found on our website, addresses frequently asked questions on these topics. In addition, this fall Lakeside joined Smart Track, a not-for-profit organization started by former financial aid officers. Using its proprietary software program that tracks specific variables considered by each college, Smart Track will provide Lakeside families, at no cost, detailed financial aid projections for each institution a student is considering. Having these more precise projections will allow Lakeside college counselors to more effectively help students build affordable college lists earlier in the college search process.
- Counseling. For families who don't qualify for financial aid, don't wish to pay for private college, and aren't interested in a Washington public university, each counselor works closely with families on building college lists with affordable options. Through our knowledge gained from conferences, travel to college campuses, networking, and anecdotal experience, Lakeside college counselors can suggest a plethora of colleges with varying price tags:
- Out-of-state public universities will be more expensive than Washington public universities, but less costly than private colleges. This past summer, I visited Binghamton University, New York state's flagship public university, where the total cost of attendance is about $40,000. Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo has a similar price tag. University of Maryland costs about $48,000.
- International universities, including those in Canada, have varied fee structures by major (i.e. engineering, humanities, business, etc.). In some cases, tuition at Canadian and British universities can be as low as $25,000.
- Some U.S. private colleges offer merit scholarships to woo top students. Size of scholarships vary. In recent years, Lakesiders have been offered merit scholarships from colleges and universities such as Boston University, Brandeis University, Case Western Reserve, Drew University, Emory University, Lewis & Clark College, Northeastern University, Occidental College, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Santa Clara University, Trinity University (Texas), Tulane University, University of Puget Sound, University of Rochester, University of Southern California, Washington University in St. Louis, Whitman College, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
Despite the rising cost of college, the college counseling office promises families to help your student find a college that's affordable and right for them.
You can reach Director of College Counseling Ari Worthman at firstname.lastname@example.org.