High-schoolers deal with cost of college

High school graduation can mean gearing up for a big bill for those planning to attend college.

A Junior Achievement/Allstate Foundation survey of 1,000 teens this February found 63 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds in the United States have changed their plans for college because of a poor economy and increasing tuition prices. Of those who have changed their plans, 41 percent said they plan to work more to pay for college, 37 percent said they’ll stay close to home or in state, 21 percent said they’ll go to community college, and 15 percent plan to wait a year or more after high school to start college.

Ninety percent of those surveyed said they and/or their parents are saving for college, and 86 percent plan on applying for scholarships.

In School District 51 this year, Fruita Monument High School seniors received more than $3 million in scholarships, and Palisade High School seniors received more than $4 million in merit-based scholarships, according to principals at those schools. Central High seniors received $1.8 million worth of scholarships renewable for four years and $540,000 worth of scholarships good for the 2010-11 school year, according to one of the school’s assistant principals.

Grand Junction High and R-5 High representatives did not have numbers available for scholarships earned by students at those schools.

Tuition costs continue to rise in Colorado. Mesa State College plans to increase tuition by up to 9 percent this fall. The same goes for the University of Colorado in Boulder and Colorado State University in Fort Collins.

Mesa State Financial Aid Director Curt Martin said he expects the college to offer about the same amount of financial aid to incoming freshmen this fall as it offered to incoming freshmen in fall 2009. Martin said the college received some federal stimulus money for federal work study for the 2009-10 school year. That will not happen again for the 2010-11 school year, Martin said, but a work study program funded by the college will help fill in the gaps for students looking for on-campus work.

Martin said financial aid packages haven’t been affected much by the economy.

“There was potential for making some bad cuts, but I haven’t really seen that yet,” he said.

Regardless of the cost, going to college has increased in popularity recently. In October, the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics found 70.1 percent of students that graduated from high school last spring were enrolled in colleges or universities. That’s the highest percentage of students going from high school to higher education recorded in the bureau’s 50-year history of tracking that information.


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