Tag Archive | "college application"

High school seniors need college cash

Reporting by: Amber Benham, Rachel Senatore, Jessica Simeone and Nicole Turso

Teenagers these days aren’t just thinking about love and movies; they’re worried about how they’ll pay for college in a recession.


For these seniors, saving money is the goal.

Ivan ColladoIvan Collado
Ivan got accepted at the University of Michigan, but there’s a nearly $15,000 gap between the financial aid he got and what he’ll owe. [audio:http://digitalstoragespace.com/09/benham/audio/IvanCollege.mp3|titles=Ivan talks about college]
He’s trying to figure out how to make prom cheaper.[audio:http://digitalstoragespace.com/09/benham/audio/IvanProm.mp3|titles=Ivan talks about prom] Emily PalkanEmily Palkan
Emily is comparing tuition costs to find the best deal. [audio:http://digitalstoragespace.com/09/benham/audio/EmilyCollege.mp3|titles=Emily talks about college]She says taking a limo to prom is more expensive than it used to be. [audio:http://digitalstoragespace.com/09/benham/audio/EmilyProm1.mp3|titles=Emily talks about prom]

Ivan Collado, a senior at Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens, was accepted at the University of Michigan, but the $30,000 financial aid package he was offered isn’t enough to cover the $44,797 tuition.   His dad’s income is already stretched too thin supporting a family of five, so Ivan knows he’ll have to turn the school down.

“It felt worse than a rejection,” he said.

While tuition is up at both the City University of New York and the State University of New York, private scholarships are down, said Kerry Hughes, a college adviser at Molloy.   Even at the private school where she works, students are making tough choices this year about where to apply to college.

Ivan’s classmate Sydney Umana dreamed of going to Penn State.  But all that changed when she got a full scholarship to Felician College in New Jersey.

“I kind of have to go there now. It’s not a bad school, but, you know, it’s not my first choice,” she said. “If not, my parents would have to pay for everything.”

Though senior year is a notoriously expensive time for adolescents, parents of this year’s graduating class face more than the typical financial pressures as they prepare to send their children out of the nest.  For many families, tough times mean smaller college funds than they expected.

“Parents tell kids, ‘Apply anyway. Don’t worry about cost,’ in junior year,” said Hughes. “Then senior year, when push comes to shove, they tell them they can’t afford it and the kids go bananas here in my office.”

Another expense at a bad time

But before college tuition hits, these teens have another major expense to contend with first—senior prom. The event can cost hundreds of dollars once dresses, tuxes, transportation, flowers and entrance fees are all paid for.

Megan Kerrigan, co-founder of the non-profit organization Operation Fairy Dust that provides girls with donated prom dresses and accessories, said she’s been getting more calls than usual this year. She estimates she has enough dresses to outfit 6,000 girls, but with the meager cash donations Fairy Dust receives annually– “$1000, if we’re lucky”– she can’t afford to rent a space big enough to give them all away. This year, with corporate donations smaller than usual, she expects to help 1,000 girls.

In the face of overwhelming prom expenses, many teens are bargain hunting for their outfits, shopping in groups to get discounts and checking cheaper venues. But with more serious expenses ahead, Ivan Collado can still laugh about the money he doesn’t have to pay for prom.

“Can we take out loans for prom and pay it back later?” he joked.

Megan Kerrigan of Operation Fairy Dust says the bad economy has left her organization with more girls in need, but fewer cash donations to make it happen.

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