Naturally you want to go to the best school for your major OR you have it set in your mind that you MUST attend xyz (any name fits) university. But is it worth going into serious debt in order to do this?
You have probably heard of stories about people in their 30s or 40s or even 50s who are still paying off their college loans.
They might be single or married, with or without children, and with or without owning a home. So many people with so much debt. You know the story because it is written about with considerable interest by politicians as well as economists. But, do you want to be part of their statistics?
Really (REALLY) try to be realistic. You may get a job offer right away, but you may not. There are many career paths within the dance field, but it's important to understand what you want and need.
So, if you have always had your own space or your own room, do you want to share space with lots of other people? If you want to live in a performing arts city, such as New York or London, can you afford to do so if you have debt and living expenses that are high? Parents can be very helpful, but not everyone has that option.
Will you get a scholarship? Will you do a work study or find a job outside of classes and rehearsals? Are there other forms of financial aid at your disposal?
When you get your final offers from your universities where you were accepted, along with your financial aid package, the really difficult decisions have to be made.
Use a spreadsheet to determine exactly how much each university will cost you, and how much you will have to borrow. Then determine “what is the price of prestige?” If your state university is offering you a scholarship and your costs are minimal, is this the better choice over a prestigious college that does not offer you any money?
Then make that tough decision. Asking yourself all the questions above is hard - but it will help you to be more prepared.
Only you know what you are comfortable with and what the right answers are.
In the long, long run … saving on how much you have to borrow for your undergraduate degree is absolutely worth it. You will graduate from college with little or no debt, and be free to live your (debt-free) life, even if it starts with a (temporary) minimum wage job.
NOTE: If the college of your choice does not offer you any aid, it is always possible to call the admissions office and tell them that they are your top choice, but you cannot afford to go there without any aid. It is possible for them to change their mind and I have known this to happen.
Photo Credit: Pepi Stojanovski
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