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Don’t Go Into Debt When Paying for College

by Justin Miller

Are you worried about being in debt for the rest of your life from costs of education? One of the most dangerous factors about going to a respectable university is taking out student loans and going into decades of debt in order to pay for tuition and fees. According to www.StudentLoans.gov, “the average debt for one year of college is $6,707.50,” the average interest rate being around 6.8%.

Many students were surprised when they found out just how much debt someone could potentially gain just from just a single year of college. “Holy crap!” was the reaction of Keren Ott, a freshman at Walkersville High School. She plans on attending a community college for two years before transferring to a four-year college. She thinks she might need student loans to pay for college, but has money saving in a college savings account.

Many students share the same thoughts as Ott, thinking they may need to take out some student loans in order to pay for college. Kendra McAbee, a junior at Walkersville, believes that she’ll be able to get scholarships to pay for much of her college career, but she still thinks she’ll have to take out student loans in order to pay for it.

Almost every student knows that they’ll be required to work a part-time or even a  full-time job if they’ll ever dream of paying for college. “I’m going to save up money from being a tattoo artist,” says Amanda Kemp, a sophomore at WHS, “I don’t know if I’m going to take out student loans.”

Although many students are going to have to pay for education in arms and legs, some students, such as WHS senior Valentina Whelan, are going to be attending a military academy and are exempt from any payments for college. “… I’m going to the Coast Guard Academy… it’s five years of service, but I plan on serving for longer.” At most military academies such as the  Coast Guard Academy, they pay you to go to college, but require at least five years of military service in return.

Some students are going to have to attend a community college before transferring to a four-year college or University. WHS Junior Denzel Weedon, for example, is going down this route. “I don’t  know how I’m going to pay for college yet.”

The difference between a community college and a four-year university or college is that one will lead to getting a professional degree and the other is to help you learn about something and could potentially help you gain credits before getting your degree. Community colleges are also much less expensive.

According to the National Center for Homeless Education, community college tuition and fee costs are on average 50% less expensive than four-year universities.

Community colleges are also ideal for those looking to attend college as an undergrad. The difference between an undergraduate program and a graduate program is that undergraduate programs are for people who have no prior degree experience, and that means you if you attend Walkersville High School. A postgraduate is someone who has at least a Bachelor Degree (Curtin University).

We were able to determine the top five most affordable community colleges for Maryland residents using a Net Price Calculator (http://collegecost.ed.gov/netpricecenter.aspx), they are listed below. Note that the following price estimations do not include cost of room and board, do not include the price that would be deducted for financial aid programs, and are specifically calculated for Maryland State residents; to be considered a resident in any state able to apply for instate tuition, a student or student’s family must own real property (fixed property, principally land and buildings), be registered to vote in the state, file a resident income tax return, hold a state driver’s license or motor vehicle registration, and have proof of prior residency of at least 12 months (www.professionals.collegeboard.com/testing/international/state).

Community Colleges

    • Baltimore City Community College – The estimated annual net cost for attending Baltimore City Community College in 2012-2013 was about $14,150 without financial aid. The cost of tuition and fees was approximately $6,770, $1,700 for books and supplies, and about $5,670 for other expenses. According to their website, www.bccc.edu, the tuition for MD residents is $88 per credit hour (meaning that the amount  of credits you earn in a class is the amount of hours you spend in that class per week, for example, a three credit class means that you spend three hours each week in that class).   http://www.bucks.edu/npc/npcalc.htm
    • Hagerstown Community College – The annual cost determined by the National Center for Education Statistics estimates the cost for in-state students is about $5,424 only for tuition fees, while the cost for room and board varies according to how long a student would be staying enrolled. The exact cost of tuition for students in-state is $172 per credit hour. http://www.hagerstowncc.edu/financial-aid/tuition-fees
    • Prince Georges Community College – The annual net price for a student attending full-time (meaning the amount of credit hours you are spending in college is high enough that you are there full-time; the amount of credit hours needed to be considered a full-time student varies between school, but it is generally around 12) at Prince George is estimated to have been around $9,886 in 2012-2013; $5,186 for tuition and fees, $1,400 for books and supplies, and $3,300 for other expenses (http://scripts.pgcc.edu/netprice/npcalc.htm). However, for a part-time student, the net price is estimated to be much less at $3,860. The price for tuition is estimated to be $2,460, while the prices for books, supplies and other expenses is about $1,400.

Frederick Community College – The estimated net price for the 2010-09 year for Maryland residents is $9,756, this includes $5,756 for tuition and fees, $1,200 for books and supplies, and $2,800 for other costs. There is also a much lower price for those who live in Frederick County; the estimated net price for the same year for in-district students was $6,844; $2,844 for tuition and fees, $1,200 for books and supplies, and $12,00 for other expenses. The exact cost of tuition increases by almost twice as much per credit, starting at $189.45 for in-district students and $323.45 for in-state (frederick.edu). FCC also offers a work study program.

Although four-year colleges and Universities are more expensive, they can be extremely beneficial, and for some careers, degrees from these types of colleges are mandatory. The University of Nevada in Reno agrees that finishing school as a four year graduate [at least] can open up valuable career opportunities.


We were also able to determine the top five most affordable four-year colleges and Universities using the same Net Price Calculator (http://collegecost.ed.gov/netpricecenter.aspx), which are listed below. Again, note that the estimated price is an estimate, and does not include cost of room and board, the deduction of financial aid and scholarships, and is specific towards Maryland State residents.

Four-year Colleges and Universities


    • Coppin State University – The estimated annual net price for this university in 2009-2010 was surprisingly low at $7,641. The price for tuition and fees estimated to have been $5,441, the price for books and supplies $1,200, and estimated other expenses just $1,000. Coppin State also offers a work study program (meaning they will pay you a wage for working on campus to help you pay for tuition and other fees, more info about Coppin State work study at http://www.coppin.edu/info/200946/work_study;  http://www.coppin.edu/info/201014/net_price_calculator).
    • University of Maryland Eastern Shore – The price of this university was estimated to be at $11,682. It was $6,082 just for tuition and fees, $1,800 for books and supplies, and $3,800 in other fees (http://www.umes.edu/NetPriceCalculator/npcalc.htm). The exact price of tuition at UMES varies between full-time and part time students; for a full time student in 2014, it was $2,383.50 per semester plus $1,260 per semester for Maryland residents. For a part-time graduates (those who are looking to get a degree who are Maryland residents, it’s $301 per credit hour, http://www.umes.edu/Comptroller/Default.aspx?id=241).
    • United States Naval Academy – Apply on a full scholarship, they pay 100% of all “tuition, room and board, medical and dental care costs of Naval Academy midshipmen.” Although you can go there without any charge besides a $100 cash payment for the first year, which increases annually, you must “reimburse” the academy with five years of military service upon graduation. More information can be found at http://www.usna.edu/Student-Life/General-Information-for-Midshipmen.php.
    • College of Southern Maryland – This college is estimated to cost $11,265 per year with costs of tuition and fees estimated at $5,668, cost of books and supplies at $1,647, and other costs estimated at $3,950. The College of Southern Maryland also offers an interesting program designed to keep students from going into debt called FACTS for Fall, Summer and Spring semesters. According to the college of Southern Maryland’s website, FACTS “gives you a convenient, interest-free way to budget education expenses.” What FACTS does is allows students to pay tuition at four points throughout the Fall and Spring semesters, and two points in the Summer, instead of all at once. This is a great way for students to budget their money and be able to pay off tuition without going into debt very quickly. However FACTS is not offered during the Winter semester. The exact cost of tuition at CSM is $198.00 for Maryland residents, with about $175 in fees. (www.csmd.edu)

University of Maryland in Baltimore County – The estimated price for this university is $15,250,  this consists of $10,390 for tuition and fees, $1,200 for books and supplies, and $3,660 for other expenses. The exact price for tuition and fees from the UMBC web page is $557.00 for Maryland residents.

For your convenience, a full list of Universities and Colleges (community or four-year) can be found at  http://collegestats.org/colleges/maryland/name/1/. Remember, college is going to be one of the most memorable experience of your young adult life, so the most important thing above all is to have a good time, just not too good of a time.