Financial Aid Tips For Students Looking At Colleges 

Saturday, Unity College graduated its largest class ever when the environmental college handed 146 students their degrees. Thanks in part to new financial incentives for businesses to be more environmentally friendly, these graduates are now heading into an expanding green job market. “The environmental field used to be it’s own little sector,” says Nicole Collins, a career consultant at Unity College. “And now it’s sort of infiltrated a lot of mainstream jobs. A lot of medical fields, a lot of department stores have sustainability coordinators.”But for many of the graduates across the country, and right here in Maine, they’re graduating with a mountain of student loan debt, in many cases, much more than they can afford to pay back.At the Finance Authority of Maine, one of the things Ceo Beth Bordowitz and her staff do is help students develop a realistic plan to pay for college and graduate school. “You want to be smart about borrowing. Borrow what you need, not what you want,” Bordowitz says. “Students need to be smart consumers. They’re spending a lot of money on this. You wouldn’t go buy a car without going to the lot and kicking a few tires and test driving. You should be doing at least as much research, or a lot more really, for your college.”The staff at FAME advises students to have a plan before choosing a college and make sure that plan includes how to pay for your education. “Are you going into a career where there’s jobs and approximately what those jobs pay,”Bordowitz cautions students not to fall in love with a dream school, advising students to give themselves plenty of options and review the financial aid packages each school is offering. “I have an equally good school here from an education perspective and I’m going to have to give up on that because I don’t want to be in debt an extra $20,000 a year for four years,” she said. “That’s $80,000. I can go to another school where I’m getting a better financial aid package, or has a lower cost, then I won’t be in that kind of debt.”Students can get valuable information from the net price calculators that can be found on most college websites. “It’s a net price calculator. So it’s going to tell you what you’re going to pay after your financial aid package.”Dr. Thomas Edwards is the Provost at Thomas College where he and his staff make it a point to talk to students and parents to make sure the school is the right fit. “So we educate a lot of first generation college students. These families are very, very interested in what will that investment in a college tuition translate into at the end of the day.”To learn more about the Finance Authority of Maine and what they have to offer you can visit their website: www.famemaine.comFor a list of schools that offer the net price calculator and to learn more about how to use it, you can go to: