Emilio's Details

What's the Best Fit for Me? Choosing a College

Make Sure You Know Why You're Going

Examine yourself and your reasons for going to college before you start your search. Why, really, are you going? What are your abilities and strengths? What are your weaknesses? What do you want out of life? Talk with your family, friends, and high-school counselors as you ask these questions. The people who know you best can help you the most with these important issues.

Know Yourself and Find a College that's a Good Fit

Choosing a college because your friends are going there or because of where it ranks on a list does not take into account who you are and who you will become. Finding a good fit requires time and thoughtfulness.

Visit college web sites and learn about events, who visits as guest speakers, and how to get in touch with current students and faculty. Or, plan a visit to your top choices and make time to sit in on classes, eat in the dining hall, and hang out in the student center or other high traffic areas.

You Can Afford to Go to College

If you make the assumption that you cannot afford college based on the "sticker price" of tuition, you will miss out. It is difficult to talk about money, but if you investigate all of your options and ask for help and advice, you will find affordable choices.

Take Action:

Source: npr.org

photo of Emilio"I was feeling stuck at the time and saw an ad for a college that appealed to me. Once I contacted them, I pretty much felt rushed through the process of applying. One week I’m applying and literally the next week I was taking classes."

What's a For-Profit College?

  • For-profit colleges are managed by private organizations. Examples include DeVry University and the University of Phoenix.
  • For-profits often offer convenient schedules and easy enrollment, but tend to cost much more than public colleges.
  • Some for-profits have been known to use aggressive and deceptive marketing practices. Never feel pressured to enroll in college.

Cost: Sticker vs. Net Price

"Sticker" Price

The "sticker price" of a university is it's advertised cost. The estimated average cost of a for-profit college is around $33,750 per year for a full-time student. Costs include tuition, fees, books and supplies. You will also need to factor housing, transportation, and personal expenses into your costs.

"Net" Price: Most Families Pay Less than Full Price

The net price of a university is the sticker price minus scholarships and grants you receive - this can greatly reduce costs for many students.

Net college cost based on family income

Find out how to calculate your 'Net Price' (1:14)

Take Action:

photo of Emilio"I just wish I knew what my options were before going to college. Once I found out about other schools, I certainly would have chosen a different track for myself...one that was probably cheaper that would have me in lesser debt."


Time to Degree

Do Everything You Can to Make Sure You Graduate on Time

Taking too long in college can cost you thousands of dollars and decrease your graduation chances.

graph showing that after 6 years in college, graduation chances decrease and cost steadily increases. Taking longer than 6 years to graduate is high risk.

Source: Complete College America

*Note: Federal and state financial aid programs have maximum limits so be sure to understand your financial aid options if you plan on attending college for more than 4-5 years. The Cal Grant maximum is 8 semesters, the Pell Grant maximum 12 semesters, and federal loans have aggregate limits.

Take Action

  • Make sure your ready for college-level math and English before arriving on campus.
  • Plan your schedule: Read the College Board suggestions for how to schedule your first year of college classes.
  • Take a full load of classes.

photo of Emilio"I knew what I wanted to major in right off the bat and was given a clear path to my degree, so I didn't take a bunch of classes I didn't need. Also, the courses for my major were flexible and I could go full time around my work schedule."


Paying for College

Emilio's Plan: Pluses and Minuses

Emilio lived at home to help keep costs down. Working part-time helped pay for his living expenses.

Emilio didn't ask questions about the scholarship offered to him by his college and didn't know it only covered one year of his education. He also didn't apply for any other scholarships.

To cover his full tuition, Emilio took out several expensive, private loans. The interest rates on these loans are usually much higher than federal student loans and will take him a long time to pay off.

Education is an investment in yourself and your community. Be proactive to ensure you get the most out of your financial aid!

Ways You Can Pay


Income/Debt Ratio

Current: $28,800. Student Debt: $47,600 = Risky.

Emilio will have completed his degree in 4 years, so he has the potential to earn more money over his lifetime than if he hadn't gotten his degree.

Emilio enrolled in college on a whim, without researching all of his college and payment options. He might have saved himself thousands of dollars in debt had he been more discriminating.

At almost $50,000 dollars, Emilio's student debt is considered very risky, especially since his current salary is a fraction of his debt. This may cause him severe financial hardship and limit his opportunities after graduation.

As a general guideline, the total debt for your degree should not be more than what you will likely earn your first year working in your field.

Take Action

  • Explore careers and salaries at O*Net Online.
  • Make sure you understand the terms of your loan such as interest rate and repayment terms.
  • Budget your time and money carefully in college so that you don't have to borrow the maximum loan amount.