Figuring out how to pay for college of choice

LOS ANGELES Eyewitness News talked to one expert who says negotiating is one way to offset rising tuition costs. But even before you worry about how to pay for a higher education, you need to decide which school is best for you.

For lots of students college is the best time of their lives, not to mention it has a lot to do with the rest of their lives. But finding the school of your dreams is not always easy.

University of Southern California Dean of Admissions Timothy Brunold says you need to do your homework.

"So many students are attracted to big names and the tendency is to not do the research, to not do the homework. We want students to research universities, we want students to visit," said Brunold.

Sheena Banerjee and Camille Kanauer were visiting USC with their mothers.

"We just want to see happy students and we want to see that students are well-rounded and care about their school work as well as having the social aspect to their lives," said Banerjee, a prospective college student.

"I like how everyone rides their bikes and stuff and everyone seems to be happy and have friends, and that's like a really good environment to be in," said prospective college student Kanauer.

Chief executive officer and founder of Jerry Slavonia says another way to visit a campus is to go online to a website like his.

"It's a national search engine really trying to break down and simplify the search process for kids interested in going to college," said Slavonia.

Now you've got to figure out how to pay for your higher education.

"There is a lot of financial aid out there, and I think not everybody knows about it," said Robbie Kanauer, mother of prospective college student Camille.

And you may not know that many of the grants and scholarships are not based on grades and scores.

"Most of the students receiving who are receiving financial assistance at USC, and I would say at probably many universities, are receiving it based on need, and so it doesn't have any relationship to how the student has done in school, what their academic record is," said Brunold.

Another thought is to negotiate your tuition with the admissions counselor.

"They are not going to lower the tuition rate for you, but what they can do is subsidize the published tuition significantly if they really want you to attend," said Slavonia. "If you're not having the discussion, you're potentially missing out on a lot of savings."

Some of the big name schools are not likely to bring down your bill because they are in such high demand, but they do offer plenty of grants and scholarships. So you should try to focus on private non-profit schools that are mostly tuition dependent if you want to negotiate.

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