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Workshop helps parents find financial aid

John GardnerGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

College tuition is very similar in some ways to the housing prices in Garfield County. It’s constantly rising with no end in sight.From 1958 to 2001, according to http://www.finaid.org, during any 17-year period in that time range the average annual tuition inflation rate was between 6 and 9 percent. An 8 percent inflation rate doubles the cost of college every nine years, the Web site reads.For new parents today, that means that by the time their infant goes to college they can expect to see the tuition double, twice. That is something that Carolyn Williams wants to help out with.She isn’t handing out money, but she has something just as valuable – good information on where to look for financial aid.”I really want to help people understand the financial aid system in the state,” Williams said. “A lot of people are unaware of what is available out there.”Williams worked as a college counselor at Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale, where she helped students apply for tuition assistance for a number of years. She worked in admissions at the boarding school and is also certified through the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. She has worked for years in helping students find financial aid when it looked like there was no hope at all.”Communication between the parents and students needs to begin much earlier,” Williams said.Glenwood Springs High School counselor Wade Lewis said that he speaks with students during their freshman year to start thinking about their college careers.”We speak with the students about what they need to be thinking of in terms of courses and extracurricular activities they should be doing in order to have what colleges are looking for,” Lewis said.Lewis is thankful for and encourages parents and students to partake of presentations like Williams’ because you can never have too much information.”We really want them to be thinking about it early,” Lewis said. “The idea is, the more information you get early on, the better you will be, come scholarship deadline.”Williams will also speak about how and where to look for financial assistance for private schools. “Most students go off to public universities,” Williams said. “Those are great schools, but it’s great to find a school that is a good fit for what they are interested in.”Williams said that 98 percent of available funds for assistance comes directly from the schools themselves. The point that she is driving home to parents is, be it a public or private university, there is money available for assistance, even if they think their income level is too high. They just need to know where to look and what to do in order to get assistance.”They may qualify for more, or they may not qualify for as much as they thought,” Williams said. “But they can predict how much they will be responsible for earlier on.”This workshop is the second in a series of college admission related topics Williams presents. The first, “How parents can help their student,” was offered in Aspen and Carbondale in October. Contact John Gardner: 384-9114jgardner@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO


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