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College decision deadline has students finalizing financial costs

College-bound high school seniors have made their decisions about where they’re going and now they have to deal with the hard reality of being able to afford their first choice. KPBS Education Reporter M.G. Perez has more about the college cost crunch.

College-bound high school seniors have made their decisions about where they’re going. Now they have to deal with the hard reality of being able to afford their first choice.

Alondra Rivera Vergara, 17, will graduate from High Tech High International with a 4.1-grade point average. She applied to 25 universities across the U.S. She was accepted by 17 of them.

With the help of her college counselor and the support of her family, Alondra has chosen Boston University and will receive an annual scholarship of $80,000 for tuition and housing. She visited the campus last week. “Seeing the new environment I was really excited,” she said, “ I saw myself there automatically because of the new places I would be able to visit and also the school.”

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Courtesy High Tech High International
David Rooney is a graduating senior at High Tech High International sharing his college decision and application tips with classmates during a community assembly Monday. The celebration of the Class of 2022 also serves as motivation for younger students to go to college, San Diego, CA, May 2, 2022.

Inflation is bombarding costs on college campuses along with the rest of the national economy. An acceptance letter for the fall does not guarantee families can afford all the costs of higher education. COVID-19 has triggered the state to invest in almost a $1billion of additional funding for financial aid, and affordable student housing.

California lawmakers have also loosened requirements for low-income families to receive CAL Grants, the state’s financial aid program covering most tuition.

Erik Castillo is the High Tech High International Director of College Advising. He said, “There were some tough discussions with students where we had to look at the reality of what amount of loans they would need to take out. Then multiply that by four and determine what kind of life they would have after that.”

Castillo mentioned that his school had a record seven students accepted to attend UC Berkeley in the fall. He works with families to determine the best options for funding.

High Tech High International is also offering its students an education in financial responsibility. Now that most students have made their college decisions, they will spend the next few weeks learning how to budget and plan for the future.

Issac Zuniga is one of those seniors. “I’m trying to have that mindset of not being so materialistic and just focus on improving myself,” he told KPBS News.

Alondra Rivera is well on her way to the career of her dreams in Boston once she begins classes in August. “I want to be a business owner and have my own business,” she said, “I also want to be able to retire early.”

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M.G. Perez
Alondra Rivera Vergara rings the bell for her acceptance to Boston University in the fall. Graduating seniors also sign the bell as part of the tradition at High Tech High International, San Diego, CA, May 2, 2022.