Published On: Mon, Oct 28th, 2013

Student Opportunities: Planning for the unexpected

 Student Opportunities by Constance OwlLife seems to be full of the unexpected; these unplanned for events can sometimes be good, and sometimes not so good. Going off to college seems to be filled with such “surprises”. It’s always best if you know what might be coming so that you can plan ahead if possible. Below are listed a few things I have been told to be mindful of as I go through this transitional year from high school to college.

1. Did you know that most college applications require a fee to be paid when the application is submitted? If you are not expecting this added expense you could be caught off guard. If you are planning to apply to several schools, this amount could add up quickly. Many top colleges charge $100.00 or more just to apply, and they not refundable (even if you are not accepted). Some schools, along with the College Board, offer fee waivers to economically disadvantaged students. When I checked with the EBCI Higher Education office this week I was told that no waivers are available to enrolled members simply on the basis of tribal membership. This is an area that really needs to be re-addressed from my perspective as a student. It is regrettable that many students may have to limit their college search based on the hardship application fees can cause their families. Instead of applying to five schools, I am not limiting myself to just two (each school charges a $90 application fee!)

2. Prepare for the expense of taking SAT and ACT exams. Again, I have been told there are no waivers for students based on enrollment. Hardship waivers are available to students who can prove they meet the guidelines. For those families caught in the middle, this is another expense that can add up quickly. Most students take both exams multiple times in order to achieve their best scores. SAT exams are approximately $50 per test and the ACT is $75. Taking each just twice add up to $250!

3. If you are looking at schools outside of North Carolina, a college visit will be another major expense for you to consider. Many schools now feature online tours but for many, nothing gives you a true sense of a campus than an onsite visit. The cost of gas, food, hotel, and even airline tickets in some situations can make this something few are to manage financially, so plan carefully if you know it is something you want to do before making final college plans.  Again, I am not aware of any tribal funding or assistance available to students looking to visit schools outside of North Carolina.

4. I am not sure what the situation is for enrolled members in Cherokee or Robbinsville High Schools, but at Murphy High School seniors are required to pay Senior Fees totaling $100 (prom and diploma), and this does not include their cap and gown. Additional fees also charged for optional graduation invitations, annual, and casual senior pictures, class rings, and prom tickets. These fees (even for the most basic packages available to students) can add up to more than $300. Add a prom dress or tux and Senior Year can total $1000 or more!

5. If you are a senior that will not receive your Minor’s Fund distribution until after your enter college in the fall (those of us that have later birthdays in the year), be prepared and budget ahead for the start up supplies you’ll need for your college “move in”. Most colleges require you to provide linens and personal items, but you will also see lists that include a dorm fridge, microwave, a lamp, rug, mattress pad, TV, laptop computer, printer, ink and paper, laundry supplies, among many other items. Try to budget at least $500 minimum for dorm room expenses.

                Maybe financial planning and budgeting during our senior year is just another life lesson we are being taught without realizing it. Prepare well and budget smartly and you might just come out at the top of the class!

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