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Funding Strategies

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This section discusses some possible ways to make college more affordable.

Use a Net Price Calculator to Estimate College Costs at a Particular School
Apply to At Least One Financial Safety School (FSS)
Register for the Colorado College Opportunity Fund (COF)
Apply for Financial Aid
Apply for Merit Scholarships
Shorten the Length of College by Claiming IB and/or AP Credit
Apply to an Honors Program
Use the Western Undergraduate Exchange Program (WUE)
Start at a Community College (Junior College)
Apply to Out-Of-State Public Colleges or Universities and Gain Resident Status

 Use a Net Price Calculator to Estimate College Costs at a Particular School

The student should gather information on what particular schools cost to attend. Net Price Calculators are available on a college or university's website, usually on the Admissions/Financial Aid page. They allow prospective students to enter information about themselves to find out what students similar to them paid to attend the institution the previous year, after taking grants and scholarships into account. Colleges also typically list their rates for tuition and room and board on their Admissions/Financial Aid webpage. An additional resource is College Board's website which can inform people on how to best interpret and compare the results from various net price calculators.

Apply to At Least One Financial Safety School (FSS), Often a Colorado Public College or University

The student should apply to at least one Financial Safety School (FSS). A Financial Safety School is one that the student would be able to afford with little or no financial aid, one at which the student is almost certain to be accepted, and one that the student is willing to attend.

A Colorado in-state public four year college or university is often a good Financial Safety School, since in-state resident tuition is usually lower than tuition at a private college or university or out of state, non-resident, tuition at a public college or university in another state. The student can also reduce college costs by living at home and/or by avoiding the travel expenses inherent in attending an out-of-state school.

Register for the Colorado College Opportunity Fund (COF)

The student should register for the Colorado College Opportunity Fund (COF). The COF is a fund created by the Colorado Legislature to provide a stipend for resident undergraduate students attending participating public Colorado colleges or universities. There is no income qualification and the student is not required to be a full time student. The stipend is paid on a per credit hour basis for up to 145 credit hours. The student must apply in order to obtain the COF stipend, which is paid directly to the college or university.

The COF also provides one-half of the per credit hour stipend to low-income, resident undergraduate students who attend participating Colorado private colleges and universities. There is, however, a need element to this provision of the COF. The student must have completed a FAFSA and be eligible for a federal Pell Grant.

All students who are Colorado residents should register for the COF, even if they are fairly certain they will attend college out of state. Registration is quick and easy. Being registered for the COF is useful if the student should later transfer to or decide to take a summer course at a participating Colorado college or university. A student can register for the COF if he or she is at least 13 years old.

Apply for Financial Aid

The student should apply early for Financial Aid from the colleges or universities to which he is applying. Types of Financial Aid are discussed under Funding Sources. College Required Aid Applications explains the process of applying for Financial Aid.

Apply for Merit Scholarships

The student should apply for merit aid (this may be based on academic merit, musical or athletic talent, demonstrated leadership, a record of community service…) offered by the schools to which he is applying. This information can be found on each college's Admissions/Financial Aid webpage.

The student is more likely to receive merit aid from a school if he is at the top of the applicant pool and will raise the college or university's average SAT score, ACT score, and/or average GPA, so this should be taken into consideration when determining which schools to apply to.

The student should apply for private scholarships that are not linked to particular colleges or universities. The Scholarship List on the Cherry Creek webpage is an excellent place to start looking for these scholarships. Scholarships explains how to search the Cherry Creek Scholarship List and how to use other search engines to find merit scholarships for which the student qualifies.

Shorten the Length of College by Claiming IB and/or AP Credit

The student can shorten the length and lessen the cost of college by claiming IB and/or AP credit. Most colleges and universities list which tests and what scores qualify for credit on their website, frequently the Admissions webpage.

CAVEAT: Some schools, typically Ivy League schools, do not grant IB or AP credit. Some graduate programs, such as medical school, discourage applicants from claiming AP or IB credit for basic science classes.The student should confer carefully with an advisor at his college before claiming IB or AP credit.

Apply to an Honors Program

The student should consider applying to an Honors Program or Honors College at an in-state public university. Honors programs often provide a school within a school and offer smaller, more challenging classes. These programs are something to consider for students who are hoping to control costs but still experience a high quality, smaller program. Honors programs at public out-of- state schools sometimes offer scholarships to admitted out-of-state students.

Information about a university's Honors Programs or Honors College can usually be found on its Admissions webpage.

Use the Western Undergraduate Exchange Program (WUE)

The student might consider using the Western Undergraduate Exchange Program (WUE) to get reduced tuition at some out-of-state public colleges and universities.

Start at a Community College (Junior College)

The student might consider starting at an in-state community college (junior college) to fulfill general requirements, then transferring to a four-year, in-state public college or university for the final two years.

CAVEAT- While many Colorado community college classes are listed as "guaranteed transfer," that does not mean that they meet the degree requirements of a particular four-year institution or major. The student should check carefully to determine whether the four-year university considers the community college course to be of "academic equivalence." For some programs, such as engineering, that have strict core course requirements and few electives, the community college route may not fulfill a student's ultimate degree plan.

CU Boulder and many other schools use a website called U.Select to see if courses are likely to transfer between institutions. This is a place to start, but the student should proceed carefully and should not assume the community college classes will fulfill degree requirements at the four-year university without advance verification.

Apply to Out-Of-State Public Colleges or Universities and Gain Resident Status

The student might consider applying to out-of-state public colleges or universities and attempting to gain resident status so as to be eligible for in-state tuition in the other state. Rules for becoming classified as a resident for tuition purposes vary widely by state. The student should check these rules carefully before attempting this strategy. Many states require the student to be totally self-supporting and to not attend college for an extended time.

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