BY O.J. EARLY
Walters State Community College student Jared Ramsey knows the value of academic scholarships.
"If it wasn't for the HOPE Scholarship and the Pell grant, then, as of right now, I still wouldn't be able to go," said Ramsey, who hopes to be a paramedic this fall.
"As far as family contributions go, they've helped some," he said. But he added, "Nowhere near as much as the scholarships."
The West Greene High School graduate could have gone to a four-year university and lived in a dormitory. Ramsey instead chose a less expensive, money-saving route.
And, like thousands of other American students and families, the Mosheim resident is taking steps to save more and spend less when it comes to higher education.
AFTERMATH OF 'THE GREAT RECESSION' STILL FELT
A recent study by Sallie Mae (SLM Corporation), a financial company that specializes in education, reveals that the aftermath of "The Great Recession" continues to affect how Americans pay for college.
Average total annual spending for college in the U.S. decreased for the second straight year in 2012, down five percent to $20,902, according to the report.
American families continue to rely more heavily on outside sources to fund college -- such as loans, scholarships and grants -- and less on their own savings and cash.
MORE STUDENTS CHOOSING COMMUNITY COLLEGES
Another post-recession effect is that students such as Ramsey continue the move toward easier-on-the-savings-account community colleges.
Students choosing community colleges is something seen often by Marlin Curnett, associate director of enrollment at Walters State.
"In a tough economy, students and their parents are looking for ways to save money. I think that is the reason that more students are taking the community college route," Curnett said.
"With smaller class size and less expensive tuition," he added, "two-year schools like Walters State offer a cost-effective solution for many students while still providing a quality education that provides them with the skills to enter the workforce after only two years, or to satisfy the general education requirements at a four-year institution."
As students and families continued to change the way they paid for college in 2012, nearly all families exercised cost-saving measures last year, the report noted.
A little more than half of U.S. college students added a roommate, and 51 percent lived at home and commuted to school in 2012.
C-DHS GRAD'S METHOD
East Tennessee State University senior Courtney Haun earned several academic scholarships that covered her tuition.
Still, the 2010 Chuckey-Doak High School graduate and her family took steps to ease expenses.
"Commuting my first three years of college was our ultimate money-saving technique," said Haun.
"Besides that, I have always worked a part-time job."
TRYING TO SAVE
A significant number of Tusculum College students take steps to save cash, according to Dr. Thomas Stein, vice president for Enrollment Management at the college.
"Many students in the greater Greeneville community will choose to live at home to reduce the overall costs by saving on room-and-board charges," Stein said.
"By doing so, our students are only faced with tuition. They can still apply for all state and federal monies they qualify to receive as well as campus-based scholarship and grants toward the tuition."
Other highlights from the Sallie Mae study from 2012 include:
* Parents cut their contributions toward college from income and savings.
* Students paid more out-of-pocket for college in 2012 than they did in 2011.
* The percentage of students borrowing from non-federal loan sources, such as private loans and credit cards, has been consistent over the last five years.
* "One outcome of the recession and the slow economic recovery is the stress that it has placed on parents' ability to pay for college from their income and savings," the report said.