Determine Financial Costs

Prospective students eagerly await college acceptance letters after spending months completing applications, touring campuses, and attending interviews. The excitement of being accepted into college, however, can occasionally be overshadowed by the realization that the student must now figure out how to pay for this education for the next several years. Students who are considering enrolling in finance courses to obtain undergraduate or graduate degrees in finance have many financial factors of their own to keep in mind when selecting which program to attend.

Students and their families need to fully understand the financial costs involved in attending college. There are educational expenses, living expenses, and other miscellaneous expenses. By approximating all of these costs upfront, the student will be able to make an informed decision regarding which education program to enter. For some students, this financial analysis will determine their ability to attend a four-year college, living on campus full time, or if they must live at home and commute to classes at the local community college.

Education costs include items such as tuition, books, supplies, program fees, and a computer, if the student does not have one already. Tuition will likely be the single largest expense the student will have to pay; it is also likely to increase each year. Included in living expenses are things such as housing, meals, medical and dental expenses, and phone and Internet services. Regardless of if the student lives on or off campus, housing is also a significant annual expense, unless of course, the student lives at home and commutes to class. Miscellaneous expenses include transportation and parking, clothing, and entertainment. If the student has his or her own car, the added cost of gasoline, insurance, and maintenance are other expenses that must be factored in to the total cost of education, along with the cost of parking on or near campus.

Whether the student is attending a two- or four-year college or graduate school, or taking continuing education courses and examinations toward certification or licensure, the education required to obtain a degree in finance involves a tremendous financial investment. Time spent in the classroom should provide a student with a variety of learning opportunities and experiences; it should enhance a student’s job prospects and ultimately increase their financial worth. It is important to receive a solid return on the time, energy, and emotional and financial investments made.

Who Pays

College tuition is a significant expense for most people, whether you are a recent high school graduate or full-time employee considering returning to school. An individual entering a finance course of study, for example, can expect substantial education costs in order to earn the bachelor’s degree most employers now require. Many finance students and professionals also decide to pursue their master’s degrees, which add several more years of college expenses to their already large education tabs. And the bill grows more for those who take continuing education courses toward a professional finance certification or licensure.

While some prospective students can afford the payments for all college-related expenses, many others must rely on funding from other sources. In some cases, students defer entering college, joining the workforce instead in order to save money to pay for college down the road. For students planning on paying their own way, there is financial aid available to them in many forms. Well-rounded students who maintain good academic records may qualify for any number of grants or scholarships. Many students also rely on federal college loans to pay for a portion of their expenses.

For those individuals entering the workforce right out of high school or for anyone looking to enhance their professional development, employer-provided tuition reimbursement benefits are an excellent option to help pay for college expenses. Eligibility for tuition reimbursement depends on a variety of factors that vary from one employer to another. Individuals must usually be active, full-time employees. They may need to work a minimum period of time, for example, six or twelve months, before becoming eligible for tuition reimbursement. Employers typically only cover expenses for course work from accredited institutions that is relevant to the employee’s current job, for professional development, or for a business-related degree. Oftentimes, the employee must maintain a specific level of job performance and GPA in order for employer reimbursement to continue. In some cases, employees are obligated to remain employed for a certain amount of time after completion of the schooling for which the employer paid or else be prepared to repay all the previously covered expenses.

Determine Financial Costs

Some employers also reimburse employees who incur expenses in the course of obtaining a professional certification. Expenses for classes, seminars, and examinations may be included in the employer’s tuition reimbursement package and subject to the same criteria as for traditional tuition expenses.

Factors That Affect Cost

For many, the financial aspects of entering a finance course at a college or university can be daunting. Expenses such as tuition, books, and supplies add up. Included are housing and living expenses, as well as the potential for graduate school down the road. Perhaps you are already employed and considering entering a finance course of study for professional development reasons. In this case, you may also be concerned about making payments for existing home and family obligations. There are many factors to keep in mind when calculating your actual costs for school—factors that can ultimately impact your decisions about when and where to attend school.

The type of school you attend will be one important factor that impacts your cost. Most affordable are finance courses you take at a community college or other accredited institution that apply toward a two-year associate’s degree. Many students minimize their education expenses by living at home and commuting to school. After two years, they can transfer to a four-year college where they will earn their bachelor’s degrees. Public or state universities, especially if the student attends in his or her state, are traditionally less expensive than private colleges.

The location and distance of the school from home are two other important factors that affect cost. Colleges and universities can be located in urban, suburban, and rural settings. Schools in urban settings are usually more expensive than those in suburban or rural areas. Consider this: Do you want to attend school near your home or in another state altogether? Will you want to visit home every weekend or just over major holidays? Will you drive or fly? Living expenses are another factor to keep in mind. If you attend college in another state, you will need to pay room and board to live on campus or separately pay for off-campus housing.

Oftentimes, students who graduate with bachelor’s degrees in finance, accounting, or related fields may first obtain employment prior to entering into master’s degree programs. They may then be able to obtain tuition reimbursement from their employer, which helps defray the cost of these added years of education.

Quality education is a significant financial investment, and most people must be conscious of the rising costs of college. Prospective students and their families who invest time researching all of their options can help put their college education within financial reach.

Financial Aid

The costs of an education for finance courses at a four-year college or university continue to rise year after year. Students who aspire to careers in finance face years of higher education and the resulting expenses, which can average more than $35,000 annually. Many students are unable to pay their college bills as they come due, and so to offset these expenses, they turn to one of the many types of financial aid that may be available to help them with those bills. Financial aid and support come in many forms; prospective students should familiarize themselves with the various sources.

Many schools offer scholarships and grants. Students who receive financial aid as gift aid do not need to repay this money. There are many sources of scholarships and grants, for example, from the federal or state government, or from a number of private sources. These awards are granted on the basis of a student’s individual academic merit or financial need.

Another source of financial aid is through student loans, which usually have very low interest rates. Repayment on these loans does not start until six months after graduation and can even be deferred until the student completes graduate school.

The federal college loans available include:

  1. Federal Perkins loans
  2. Stafford loans
  3. PLUS loans

Students apply for loans or submit Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) applications, which determine their eligibility for financial aid based on need. If attending school in the state where the student resides, he or she may be eligible for financial aid from the state’s higher education commission.

Grants are also available to certain minorities, and some are specifically for women. For example, there are scholarships and grants specifically for Native-American Indians and African-American students. Students who belong to sororities or fraternities may be eligible to receive grants from their national organizations. The military offers education benefits that can cover a soldier’s tuition, books, fees, and some living expenses. Other military benefits provide financial assistance for the families of certain veterans.

Many established employers offer a college tuition reimbursement or tuition assistance plan as part of their employee benefits packages. If the student is currently employed, the company may pay for him or her to attend school while remaining employed at the company. Eligible employees may be able to receive several thousand dollars for each semester of studies.

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