Education After High School

Are You Considering Education Beyond High School?

It’s a big investment of time, money, and effort, so you should carefully evaluate the school you’re considering. Choosing the school you’ll attend is one of the most important decisions you need to make. Another is how you’re going to pay for your education. To help students afford a college or university, the U.S. Department of Education offers a variety of student financial aid programs.

What Information Should I Request From A School? Some of the basic questions you should ask when considering a college or career school are:

  • Does the school offer the courses and type of program I want?
  • Do I meet the admissions requirements?
  • Does the school offer a high quality education at a reasonable price?
  • Does the school offer services I need and activities I’m interested in?
  • What are job placement rates for students who have recently graduated?

Most of this information is covered in a school’s catalog or in its introductory brochures. Make sure you get these from schools you’re interested in attending. The reference sections of local libraries are also good places to find information about colleges and career schools.

Take a look at Scholarships.com and college websites for additional information. If you know someone who attends or has attended a school you’re considering, consider asking for their opinion of the school.

You should ask about the school’s accreditation, licensing, student loan default rate, and campus security.

  • Get information about the school’s loan default rate (the percentage of students who attended the school, took out federal student loans, and later failed to repay their loans on time). You may not be able to receive federal aid from programs at schools with high default rates.
  • Obtain a copy of the school’s campus security report which provides information on the school’s campus security policies and campus crime statistics. Schools must publish a campus security report every year and distribute it to all current students and employees of the school. In addition, if you contact a school and ask for admissions information, the school must inform you that its campus security report is available, provide you with a summary of the report, and let you know how you can obtain a copy. Parents and students can use the Internet to review crime statistics for many colleges, universities, and career schools. These statistics can be found at the Department of Education’s Web site at www.ope.ed.gov/security
  • • Talk to high school counselors, local employers, and the state higher education agency. You can also see if any complaints about the school have been filed with the local Better Business Bureau or the consumer protection division of the state attorney general’s office. You can search for Better Business Bureau offices at www.bbb.org Contact these organizations if you have a complaint about a school.

Find out the school’s job placement rates (the percentage of students who are placed in jobs relevant to their courses of study).

  • If the school advertises its job placement rates, it must also publish the most recent employment statistics, graduation statistics, and any other information necessary to back up its claims. This information must be available at or before the time you apply for admission to the school. Also, check with local employers to see whether they have hired graduates from the school.

Find out about the school's refund policy.

  • If you enroll but never begin classes, you should receive most of your money back. If you begin attending classes but leave before completing your coursework, you may be able to receive a partial refund.

Find out about the financial aid availability at the school.

You have the right to receive the following information from the school:

  • what the location, hours, and counseling procedures are for the school’s financial aid office;
  • what financial assistance is available, including federal, state, local, private, and institutional financial aid programs;
  • what the procedures and deadlines are for submitting applications for each available financial aid program;
  • how the school selects financial aid recipients;
  • how the school determines your financial need;
  • how the school determines each type and amount of assistance in your financial aid package;
  • how and when you’ll receive your aid;
  • how the school determines whether you’re making satisfactory academic progress, and what happens if you’re not (whether you continue to receive federal financial aid depends, in part, on whether you make satisfactory academic progress);
  • if you’re offered a Federal Work-Study job, what the job is, what hours you must work, what your duties will be, what the pay will be, and how and when you’ll be paid. Find out about the school’s return-of-aid policy.

Find out about the school’s return-of-aid policy.

  • If you receive federal student aid from any of the programs mentioned in this publication (except for Federal Work- Study) and you withdraw from school, some of that money may have to be returned by you or your school. Also, even if you don’t finish your coursework, you’ll have to repay the loan funds you received, less any amount your school has returned to your lender.

Find out the school’s completion and transfer-out rates.

  • A school is required to disclose to current and prospective students the percentage of its students who complete the school’s programs and the percentage of students who transfer out of the school.

Get a copy of the school’s "equity-in-athletics" report.

  • Any coeducational school where you can receive federal student aid and where there’s an intercollegiate athletic program must prepare an equity-in-athletics report giving financial and statistical information about men’s and women’s sports. This information makes students aware of a school’s commitment to providing equitable athletic opportunities for its male and female students.

You may also want to compare your expected college debt with your expected post-college income. If you borrow money to pay for all or a portion of your education, you’ll need to earn or have access to enough money to repay your debt. Check the Web or visit the library to learn more about the careers you’re interested in pursuing. The U.S. Department of Labor publishes the Dictionary of Occupational Titles which includes a list of career choices and information on typical wages or salaries for many occupations. The Labor Department also publishes the Occupational Outlook Handbook which offers job descriptions, including starting salaries and annual income averages.

You can find the Dictionary of Occupational Titles online at:
www.oalj.dol.gov/libdot.htm

You can find the Occupational Outlook Handbook online at:
www.bls.gov/oco

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