Capitalizing on College

This month we’re featuring posts from Quest Scholars who have learned (or are learning!) savvy spending tips for college, including searching for outside scholarships and financial aid tips. Keep reading and stay tuned for more!  

Jokes about the perpetually broke financial state of college students and the inundation of memes on the internet about the emptiness of student wallets plague our generation’s perception of college. Yes, college is expensive. But colleges are, to many people’s surprise, taking steps to help low-income students.

QuestBridge partner colleges are dedicated to accommodating student needs, especially those of low-income students. And, in general, I’ve noticed an increasing trend in funding for programs to lower the cost of college for students. This past September, Notre Dame received a $20 million donation for an initiative at the college to financially help students gain access to laptops, student life events, and even study abroad programs!

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As a student of the University of Chicago, I have discovered a variety of resources that help reduce the cost of college for low-income students. The newly initiated program at the University of Chicago, Center for College Student Success (CCSS), provides numerous resources and programs to help students not only academically but also financially. Through a CCSS program called Chicago Academic Achievement Program (CAAP), the university provides an intensive, seven-week program while covering the costs of transportation, summer work-study pay, and quarterly stipends for costs of textbooks during students’ first year at the college.

Some universities also provide an alternative campus-specific currency for students, like Princeton’s Paw Points and the University of Chicago’s Maroon Dollars. Sometimes part of student meal plans, these alternate forms of money can help offset the cost of living for college students. Instead of going off-campus, I’ve learned that these points can cover the cost of basic necessities such as school supplies, laundry detergent, late-night snacks, or that cup of coffee for your calculus class.

Whether it is through summer programs such as CAAP or the simple budgeting tools colleges provide, there are many ways that colleges attempt to lower costs for us. Make sure to be on the lookout for them!

– Yeju Hwang, University of Chicago ’19