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5 Costly College Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make

paying planning saving Jan 04, 2022

For many families, shopping for the right college can look a lot like shopping for a new car. Too many get caught up in the style and luxury, and end up overpaying, pushing them into excessive debt.

At, SimpliCollege, we stress the importance of finding a college that is the best social, academic and financial fit for your lifestyle. The first step is becoming aware of the common challenges families tend to face, so we’ve gathered our top five costly college mistakes you can avoid, to help you lower the cost of college:

1. Not negotiating the best financial aid offer.

Did you know that you can negotiate with colleges to get a better price? It is more difficult to negotiate with state colleges, but this is a proven tactic with many private colleges. The key is getting leverage. Having multiple offers from competing colleges gives you the best opportunity for success. 


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2. Failing to exhaust scholarship opportunities.

Scholarships are by far one of the best ways to reduce college-related costs and since you’re not responsible for paying them back, it is essentially free money that you can put toward your education! Many students miss out on huge financial opportunity by not doing enough research on the scholarships they qualify for. Aim to exhaust all of your scholarship options, and apply regularly to increase your chances. SimpliCollege has a Scholarship Resource with billions of scholarship dollars.


3. Parents or Grandparents co-signing for their children. 

This is always done with the best intentions but has negatively impacted thousands of family’s credit and financial stability. Many families ignore the fact that when you co-sign for a loan, you, too, are responsible for it. Because most of these loans are federally backed, they are non-dischargeable through bankruptcy. Many parents and grandparents are not only having their paycheck garnished but their social security payments!

We’re finding that more college grads cannot find jobs immediately after they graduate or cannot find jobs that support their lifestyle. Therefore, students make much less money than they expected. This results in not being able pay their student loans or afford the basic necessities to live. In this case, if the student cannot make payments on their loans, the responsibility can fall on you as the cosigner. Before you sign the dotted line, think twice, and practice some tough love – it will help your student in the long run.


4. Fees on your Financial Aid Package.

It is very important that you methodically walk through your financial aid package. You need to understand each line item. Is it money that doesn't have to be repaid (gift, grant or scholarships)? Is it a loan? Is it a fee? With colleges trying to avoid raising the tuition fee more than 4-6% per year, they tend to add a number of fees. In some cases, these fees can add up to $2,000 -$3,000 per year.

One example was a financial aid package that had a fee of $35 per semester for a box fan. If the student didn’t catch this, it would have cost the family $280.00 for the 4 years the student was in college. The point is, don’t pay fees without clearly receiving value from the college and make sure you ask questions. Try to have fees removed that you feel are not necessary.


5. Visiting colleges that you cannot afford. 

This is a very common mistake that can easily be avoided. At SimpliCollege, we stress the importance of finding the right social, academic and financial fit when it comes to choosing a college. Before heading out on a weekend of college tours and visits, take a step back and consider if the cost of the college is something that you can realistically afford.

Taking this into consideration before visiting the campus will prevent you and your student from becoming emotionally attached and pursuing something that you know cannot be realistically achieved, without putting you into excessive debt.


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