The wide range of information about college preparation can be confusing and, at times, overwhelming. Researching the variety of colleges, types of financial aid, admissions requirements, and college-preparation resources takes time and dedication, but the information that you acquire will help your student make the best possible choices about college. Try to take things one step at a time, and soon you will understand the options and opportunities available to your student.
College Admissions Requirements
Every college has its own particular requirements for admission. Some colleges emphasize grades in core subject areas and test scores on college entrance exams like the ACT and SAT. In addition, some colleges consider extracurricular activities and leadership roles during high school. Generally, to enter a four-year public college or university, students will need to take the following classes in high school:
Math (Algebra I and higher)
Admissions offices at universities and colleges also often ask for a student's test scores on a national standardized test like the SAT I or the ACT. Your scores on these standardized tests are used for admission and also for merit scholarships.
Even if you don't have straight As in high school or score high on these tests, college is still an option. Many factors are taken into consideration, and all students who work very hard can succeed in college.
For more specific course requirements at The University of Arizona, look at information about how to apply for admission at UA.
If a student wants to attend college, money does not have to be an obstacle. College may not be as expensive as you think. Also, more expensive colleges and universities often offer many resources for students like scholarships and other sources of financial aid. In fact, attending a four-year university may be more economical than attending a community college because of the abundant financial aid resources available to students attending public and private universities.
The cost of college includes not only tuition but also expenses for, registration fees, housing, food, books, transportation and other supplies. Some families with students in college reduce these costs if a student:
- lives at home or with relatives rather than on campus while in college
- attends a nearby college or takes a bus to and from the campus rather than owning a car and parking on campus
- borrows texbooks from the library or from older students or buys used textbooks instead of new ones.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
When you consider how to help support your student's education, financial aid should be a large part of that plan. Financial aid is divided into two categories: need-based and merit-based aid. Need-based aid is available to students who demonstrate a financial need. In order to apply for need-based aid, students use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) which should be completed every year in February for the upcoming school year. Need-based aid for college includes:
- Loans that must be repaid after the student leaves college
- Grants from the federal or state government or from the college that the student does not need to repay
- Work Study money that the student earns by working part time at the university while attending classes.
Merit-based aid usually means scholarships. Scholarships are money for college that is given for high academic achievement, talent, or athletic ability. Scholarships do not need to be repaid by the student.
Colleges usually combine different types of financial aid in an award package to help the student pay for their education. The award package will depend on the financial situation of the student and the family, the amount of aid available at the college, and the cost of attendance at that college. Because more expensive colleges offer more financial aid, families should consider any college that seems like a good match academically and personally for the student.
The University of Arizona has created a Financial Aid Estimator to offer families an idea of how much aid of each type a student may qualify for at The University of Arizona.. You can find the estimator at https://www.takeuthere.arizona.edu/EFC/index.aspx.
ACT Inc., the creators of the ACT test, also have a financial aid estimator. This estimator shows the cost of attendance and financial aid scenarios for other colleges and universities. This estimator can be found at http://www.act.org/fane/index.html.
The Office of Early Academic Outreach can help families by answering questions or directing you to the best resources available for researching college. If you have any questions about college, please call our office at (520) 626-2300 or send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will either respond directly to your inquiry, schedule an appointment to discuss college in more detail, or help you locate the right resource to assist with your question or problem.