It is never too early to start preparing for your future. There are many websites available with excellent information, but for now let's start with the basics.
When someone says "college" they are referring to any education or training after high school. This can be a traditional 2 or 4 year college or a trade school; there are several different options right here in St. George including Dixie ATC and Dixie State University. When you think of college, think "One, Two, Four or More!" Meaning that college programs will take one year, two years, four years or more.
While it is never a good idea to go into too much debt, there are funds available for you to attend schools like these to help you get the job you want and support yourself and your family. Some simple math is required to figure out how much you will need for college:
The Cost of Attendance (COA) minus Expected Family Contribution (EFC) will equal your Estimated Financial Need:
Here is a great tool provided by the Utah Higher Education Authority to help you figure out your estimated need and how much you might have to come up with or borrow.
When you borrow money, YOU WILL HAVE TO PAY IT BACK, so the less you borrow the less your monthly payments will be. For example, lets say you get through college with just $20,000 debt; you will have monthly payments of around $100 for 20 years. But lets say you go all out and end up borrowing $100,000; you are going to have to pay close to $600 every single month for 20 years! That's as much as some house payments!!
Here is how you can start preparing now so that you don't have so much debt after college:
1. Work hard in school now! There are literally tens of thousands of scholarships out there and you will be surprised how many scholarships are available for students without perfect grades (but the better the grades the better the deal!). For example, Dixie State's Presidential Scholarship will pay for all your tuition and fees for 4 years (that's around $18,000)!! In order to qualify for this you must be close to a 4.0 student and have a great ACT score, but Dixie also has several other scholarships available for students who have not performed as well. Our district keeps a current list of several local and national scholarships here: http://www.washk12.org/secondary-education-academics/scholarships
2. Keep track of leadership and volunteer activities you do in school and in the community. These activities are even more important than grades for many scholarships.
3. Start a savings account and set a goal to save 20% or more of your money. Any money you save now will help you later in life.
4. Figure out early what you like to do and what jobs interest you. This can save you time; and time is money!
Anytime is a good time to ask Ms. Powell or Mr. Gunnell to help you discover your interests and for other ideas on how you can prepare for your future!