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Categorized | Paying For College

College: Removing Luck from the Equation

4-leaf clover on white backgroundLooking back, I realize my college experience was blessed with a relative lack of burdens. Naturally, I experienced the social and academic trials and trivialities most everyone will encounter. I was an athlete, wrote for the school paper and maintained a job or two, so I was definitely busy, but these responsibilities were more privilege than burden.

Through a combination of scholarships, grants, earned income and parental support, I was able to graduate after four years at a private school less than $5,000 in debt. I didn’t entirely realize it at the time, but that is a quasi-miraculous outcome. As I said, I am overwhelmingly blessed, and have countless people to thank for their support.

Anyone who makes it to college has hundreds of people to thank. No one does it alone. Some combination of teachers, parents, friends, haters and lovers help us along the way. Sometimes it’s the little things — a smile of encouragement, an extra hour of tutoring — that make the biggest difference. All those little moments add up and make a major impact on our lives.

That being said, the big things still loom large. Tuition is one of those major barriers standing between many qualified students and the education they desire and deserve. I have friends whose path through college took six or more years — not because they were partying too much, not because they were in medical school, but because they were forced to sacrifice credit hours in exchange for clocking an hourly wage.

Higher education is expensive, and isn’t getting any cheaper. A paper published by the American Council on Education shows that from 2006 to 2011, tuition at 4-year public universities rose 22 percent. Meanwhile, as of March 2012, student debt has nearly tripled over the past 8 years to a mind-boggling total of $1.1 trillion.

Money should not stand in the way of deserving students seeking the knowledge and experience that will be the foundation for their lives. That foundation should not be sabotaged from the start by the overbearing weight of unnecessary debt. That is why I was so pleased to discover that there is quality assistance available to help students significantly reduce their tuition costs.

In-State Angels is an organization started in 2011 to serve the needs of students at the University of Colorado-Boulder. It has since grown and now serves students going to almost 150 schools around the country. Their sole mission is to help students qualify for in-state tuition as soon as is legally possible.

The difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition can be almost $10,000 per semester. With so much money at stake, the schools have made sure that the qualification process for in-state status is fraught with peril. The regulations are constantly shifting, and carry stiff penalties for any impropriety, be it purposeful or not.

In-State Angels is an experienced navigator of these treacherous bureaucratic waters. They do everything they can — short of registering a student’s car in their new home state or getting him-or her dressed in the morning — to make the process smooth and simple. Significantly, personally-assigned Angels work for free until in-state status has been officially established and the student is already saving thousands of dollars per semester.

These Angels provide a profoundly valuable service. By making tuition affordable where it previously was not, they are expanding educational opportunities for students, creating the opportunity for them to grow into debt-free graduates.

College is a time of personal growth and transformation. Students don’t need any unnecessary stress added to their already burdened minds. It is hard enough to figure out how to pay for dinner, much less next semester’s tuition.

That being the case, it is worthwhile to check with In-State Angels to see if you or a student you know is a good candidate for their services. It might save them (or you) a lot of money, and a lot of headache.

It is my sincere desire for more students to graduate with less debt, and ISA is on a mission to see that happen. Seek them out, ask them questions, allow them to help. It never hurts to have Angels on your side.

 About the Author:

Today’s article comes from David McConaghay, a writer and professional enthusiast based in Boulder, Colorado. He supports In-State Angels based on his passionate belief that everyone deserves affordable access to higher education. You are invited to follow him on Twitter @DaveTelf.

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