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: 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

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: College and Career Choices (Sp)

In this activity, students will be able to:

  • Analyze the profiles of two students to make decisions about which college to attend and what major to pursue
  • Use two online tools to research college and career options they are personally interested in and considering for their futures
  • 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

CREATE: Student Loans Infographic

In this activity, students will be able to: 

  • Conduct research on the various student loan options available
  • Create an infographic to organize their findings

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 offer letter
  • Compare two financial aid offer letters to identify which one offers the best package

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.

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: How Many File the FAFSA Where You Live?

In this activity, students will be able to:

  • Clarify some of the most common myths that many students may have about the FAFSA
  • Research how many students in their school and state file the FAFSA

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