Guest post by Tara Tyrrell, a current student at Yale University:
We all know it: the economy is down, and unemployment is up. Though it’s common knowledge that going to college is an essential part of boosting your chances of employment, students are more and more frequently finding that college itself is responsible for a staggering amount of their debt. According to a New York Times article published this May, the average cost for a student who lives in state to attend Ohio State is about $25,00 a year. The average amount debt for graduates who need to take out loans at Ohio State is $24,480. The amount of students graduating with debt is increasing, and federal funding for colleges is far from a top priority these days. So how, then, do you and your family stay in the black? Here are my top three tips to help you choose the right school for you.
Go To College. This may seem like a no-brainer, but I personally know a handful of very bright high school graduates to whom cost seemed like too big a deterrent. These graduates decided to get jobs right out of high school and go to college when they had amassed enough money, but that day never came.
Consider a Community College First. If you have a good community college in your area, consider attending long enough to get an associate’s degree (usually 2 years), then transferring to another school. This will not only cut costs from tuition in half, but will also save you money on travel expenses, room and board, furniture for a new apartment, etc. Before you do this, make sure that you understand that your college experience will be different than if you go away to college immediately. Be absolutely sure that this move is the right one for you. Above all, make sure that your credits will transfer to the university of your choice.
Consider an Ivy Education. As if you need another reason to shoot for the stars! Believe it or not, the huge endowments of Ivies like Harvard and Yale allow them to give very generous financial aid packages. I graduated completely debt-free from Yale this year, thanks entirely to their financial aid package, whereas my college career at my local state university would have left me about $100,000 in the red. As a bonus, student jobs at Ivy League universities like Yale pay anywhere from $10-$15 an hour (and beyond, in extreme cases), which goes an exceptionally long way in helping to subsidize other random costs (and there will be other random costs, I promise).
College is an amazing and essential experience for so many reasons, but make sure that your experience is as carefree as possible-you’re going to have enough stresses at school, why add to them at home? Keep these tips in mind, and remember that if worse comes to worst, you can transfer, take a gap year, or reassess your finances.
 Martin, Andrew. “Slowly, As Student Debt Rises, Colleges Confront Costs.” The New York Times. May 14th, 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/15/business/colleges-begin-to-confront-higher-costs-and-students-debt.html?pagewanted=all