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Planning for College


College will be here sooner than you think. Take it a step at a time and you'll be ready.





Piggy Bank


Financial Aid

The “sticker price” for college tuition can make college seem unattainable. But most college students pay far less than the sticker price. Financial assistance programs (usually run by the federal government or individual colleges and universities) help bridge the gap between what families can afford to pay and the cost of tuition. Keep in mind that colleges with higher sticker prices usually offer more financial aid than those with lower tuition. The amount of financial aid awarded varies greatly from student to student. Many factors are taken into account, including age of parents, size of family, personal assets and medical expenses in order to determine an amount referred to as “expected family contribution.”

The largest source of student aid is from the federal government and is known as Federal Student Aid. It includes:

Grants – money that doesn’t have to be repaid

Loans – money that has to be repaid with interest.

Work study – a work program to help students earn money


Financial Aid


You will apply for Federal Student Aid through the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) form. You will can fill out

FAFSA sometime around the beginning of your senior year (or the year before you start college).

This calculator, fafsa4caster, can give you an idea of how much money you will receive in Federal Student Assistance.





Stacks of coins


You can start saving now with a 529 savings account. You won’t pay annual taxes on your earnings in this account, so your balance can grow faster. Students can use the

money for tuition, books, room and board, computers. And when they make a withdrawal, that money will not be taxed.


This page from the College Board details ways to estimate college costs.

More information on paying for college from Mapping Your Future

More information on paying for college from Know How 2 Go

Utah specific information on paying for college from Utah Futures



Which type of school is right for you?

Public Colleges are funded by local and state governments and usually offer lower tuition rates. They typically have larger class sizes than private colleges.

Private Colleges rely on tuition, fees and private sources for funding. Their tuition is higher but they often have generous financial aid packages from private donations. Class sizes are usually smaller.

For-Profit Colleges are businesses that offer a variety of degree programs preparing students for specific careers. Tuition is usually high. Credits earned may not transfer to other schools. They typically have smaller class sizes.

Four Year Institutions offer bachelors degrees in specific areas of study. Students can earn a Bachelor of Arts Degree (B.A.) for majoring in such fields as history, philosophy, English and arts programs. Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degrees are awarded to students who major in science, technology and business.

Universities are larger schools containing several smaller colleges. They offer more majors and degree options, including bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees and sometimes law schools and medical schools. They often focus on scholarly research. Universities can have bigger class sizes and higher tuition.

Two Year Colleges/ Community Colleges/ Junior Colleges award two year associate degrees and certificates for specific careers. Junior Colleges are usually private. These schools can also be a starting place for students who want to continue on in their education. They often have much lower tuition than other schools.

Technical Colleges/ Trade Schools/ Vocational Schools offer specialized training in a particular industry or career such as culinary arts, firefighting, dental hygiene and medical-records technology. Course work tends to be more hands on and less time in the classroom. Degrees from these schools are not always transferrable to universities.

Apprenticeship/ Dual Training Programs combine on the job training with academic instruction for those entering the workforce. Apprenticeships are paid with salary increasing with completion of elements of the program. They can sometimes last four or five years. They involve much less classroom instruction, and more hands on work.


School building

Want to compare different schools? Check out this tool.





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Mission: The Open Classroom is a parent-cooperative learning community in which teachers and parents collaborate to educate the whole child and empower lifelong learners.  

Vision: The Open Classroom inspires authentic learning by engaging everyone in dynamic and evolving practices in a welcoming environment.