Paying for College Activities

CARTOONS: Student Loan Debt

In this activity, students will be able to: 

  • Examine a number of cartoons about student loan debt and choose one to analyze in more depth
  • Explain the cartoon's key message about student loan debt and how it depicts that message

MOVE: Brainstorming the Perfect Scholarship Essay

In this activity, students will be able to:

  • Brainstorm various strategies and sample responses for several scholarship essay prompts
  • Explore other students’ ideas and responses through guided Gallery Walk 

INTERACTIVE: Payback (Sp)

In this activity students will:

  • Make real-time and realistic decisions to try to manage student debt
  • Experience the consequence for each decision they make on: focus, attention, happiness, and student debt

INTERACTIVE: 4-Year Plan for College (Sp)

In this activity, students will be able to:

  • Compare the prices of three colleges using Sallie Mae's College Planning Calculator
  • Learn about the different loans offered to students, as well as which one is the best fit
  • Available in English & Spanish

INTERACTIVE: How Much Will Your College Actually Cost?

In this activity, students will be able to:

  • Determine the difference between sticker price and net price for colleges
  • Analyze information from an interactive using a spreadsheet
  • Evaluate potential colleges based on their price comparison

INTERACTIVE: Which Colleges Help Low Income Students the Most?

In this activity, students will be able to:

  • Use an interactive database to see which colleges offer the most aid
  • Import data into a spreadsheet to compare the colleges based on how they help low-income students
  • Evaluate college options based on the aid offered, student debt and caliber of school

INTERACTIVE: Earnings By College Major

In this activity, students will be able to:

  • Investigate how a college education an impact your lifetime earnings
  • Compare different college majors to see their associated lifetime earnings
  • Interpret the graphs to understand how annual earnings change over time for different educational backgrounds

INTERACTIVE: Eight Questions to Ask Before Picking a College

In this activity, students will be able to:

  • Take a quiz to uncover the factors they need to consider before choosing a college
  • Analyze the results of the quiz to start thinking about how they will finance their college choice

INTERACTIVE: How Does Public College Tuition Compare to Household Income in Your State?

In this activity, students will be able to:

  • Investigate the change in college tuition for colleges in their state
  • Research the possible reasons for this change
  • Compare the change in college tuition with the change in household income in the same state

ANALYZE: Online Tools for Paying for College

In this activity, students will be able to: 

  • Work in groups to analyze a number of online tools they can use in their paying for college process
  • Present the tools they researched to their classmates
  • Identify which tools they are most likely to use when planning how to pay for college 

ANALYZE: A Student Aid Report (SAR)

In this activity, students will be able to: 

 

  • Answer questions by looking at a sample student aid report
  • Understand the importance of carefully reviewing one's SAR

ANALYZE: Student Loan Decision Making (Sp)

In this activity, students will be able to:

  • Analyze the profiles of three students to help provide advice about what decisions they should make in terms of securing student loans to pay for college
  • Examine their financial aid offers, career goals, and college choices
  • Available in English & Spanish

ANALYZE: Student Loan Repayment

In this activity, students will be able to:

  • Estimate their total student loan debt
  • Use a Loan Repayment Calculator to compare their monthly payments using various repayment plans
  • Choose a repayment plan that best fits their needs and lifestyle

CALCULATE: What is the Value of a College Education?

In this activity, students will be able to:

  • Calculate the value of a college education.
  • First, they will estimate it’s value. Then, they will use a chart from the Dept. of Labor to calculate the value (in career earnings) of different levels of education. Finally they will reflect on that value.

COMPARE: College Needs vs. Wants (Sp)

In this activity, students will be able to:

  • Assess college expenses as needs or wants and then discuss their decisions with a partner.

COMPARE: Sticker Price vs. Net Price

In this activity, students will be able to:

  • Compare the difference between the Sticker Price of college and the Net Price to see what they will actually be required to pay for their education.

COMPARE: Understanding the Types of Student Loans (Sp)

In this activity, students will be able to:

  • Compare the different types of student loans.
  • This includes Federal vs Private loans, the different types of Federal Loans (Perkins, Stafford/Direct, and Direct Plus), and subsidized vs unsubsidized loans.

COMPARE: Which Repayment Option is Best? (Sp)

In this activity, students will be able to:

  • take a variety of factors about individuals (salary, location and student loan debt)
  • use a student loan repayment calculator to preview their repayment options
  • determine which repayment option is best.
  • Available in English & Spanish

CREATE: Monthly College Budget (Sp)

In this activity, students will be able to:  

  • Make choices regarding income in college
  • Set aside money to pay yourself first in savings
  • Create a monthly budget to follow during freshman year
  • And then reflect on the process of budgeting.
  • Available in English & Spanish

 

Note: If you'd like students to create a budget using their Financial Aid Award Letter, use this activity instead

DISCUSS: Paying for College with Your Parents (Sp)

In this activity, students will be able to:

  • Learn how to introduce the subject of paying for college to their parents.
  • Create a joint action plan as to how to go about presenting.
  • Reflect on the conversation.
  • Available in English & Spanish

EXCEL: Three Students Budget & Unanticipated Changes

In this activity, students will be able to:

  • Follow step-by-step directions and make decisions to complete a hypothetical monthly college budget using a spreadsheet
  • Reflect on their choices.

FINE PRINT: Financial Aid Package

With this Fine Print students will be able to:

  • Understand the various types of financial aid described in a financial aid award letter
  • Compare two financial aid award letters to identify which one offers the best package

PROJECT: Customize Your College Budget

In this Common Core-aligned project, students will follow directions to complete a fully customized budget for their monthly expenses while in college. They’ll reflect on how these decisions impact their college experience and their future.

PROJECT: How Many File the FAFSA at Your School?

In this Common Core-aligned project, students will learn why so many students fail to file the FAFSA each year, research how many students at their school file the FAFSA, and create a marketing campaign to encourage more students at their school to file the FAFSA.

PROJECT: Moving Off Campus

In this Common Core Standards-aligned project, students will make a budget that allows them to move off campus for less money than room and board. They will also determine how the immediate savings are impacted if paid with student loans. They will also create a slideshow presentation to persuade their parents.

PROJECT: Plan a Spring Break Trip

In this Common Core-aligned project, students will work in a group to plan a spring break college vacation. After completing a budget and slideshow, they’ll present their vacation in competition with the other groups in the class for best trip.

PROJECT: Simplifying Student Loans Infographic

In this Common Core Standards-aligned project, students will create a digital infographic distinguishing between student loan options.

RESEARCH: FAFSA Deadlines

In this activity, students will be able to: 

  • Research FAFSA deadlines at the college, state, and federal levels
  • Explain what the FAFSA verification process is and how to complete it 
  • Reflect on what skills they will need to to meet all FAFSA deadlines

RESEARCH: Finding Scholarships and Grants (Sp)

In this activity, students will be able to:

  • Find scholarships and grants to help them pay for college.
  • Identify personal characteristics that can make them candidates for specific scholarships.
  • Find scholarships using internet platforms.
  • Develop a “plan of attack” for securing grants/scholarships.
  • Available in English & Spanish

RESEARCH: Paying for College Vocabulary (Sp)

In this activity, students will be able to:

  • Complete a Web Quest to define key vocabulary terms in the process of applying to college and paying for it, including: University vs College, Bachelor’s vs Master’s Degrees, Public vs Private Colleges, and In-State vs Out-of-State Tuition.
  • Available in English & Spanish

RESEARCH: Salaries by Major

In this activity, students will be able to:

  • Compare median salaries for different college majors they are interested in studying for a Bachelor's Degree
  • Understand the connection between the major they study and salaries they may earn in the future
  • Reflect on their findings

ROLEPLAY: Peer Pressure Meets College Finances (Sp)

In this activity, students will be able to:

  • Prepare for and engage in a role play as a college student making budgeting decisions withstanding peer pressure

Available in English and Spanish