OK so the colleges I got into are Lewis & Clark College, Pacific Lutheran University, and Seattle University. I know that neither Seattle U nor PLU would challenge me academically. However, if I do enough digging for scholarships, as well as some work study, I might be able to come out with little or no debt. But Lewis & Clark is my dream. I went there yesterday for Admitted Students Day, and I could literally picture myself there. I belong there. I love the professors, the students, the programs, the location, the mission, the classes... everything except the cost. If I went, I would be taking out around $5000 in loans per year. And that's estimating that I get a few grand in outside scholarships. (I've applied to hundreds, so I'm pretty confident.) That's not counting work study though. Plus, I learned about tons of opportunities for paid research internships that you can take, usually in the summer.
So here's the thing. I have the papers in front of me. I was planning on saying "yes" to L&C TODAY. I just want to make sure I'm not making a mistake. I'd also like to mention that I estimate I'll earn in the neighborhood of $45,000 straight out of college. Plus, I may go on to earn my Master's. Also, I think that if I went anywhere else, I would feel like I was settling and that it wasn't fair to me. I want to be challenged. I want to go to college to learn. So how do I decide what's right for me? I mean, should the benefits of not being in debt really weigh that heavily?
If you can get through with only 5 grand in loans per year, that's not bad, it's lower than the national average. But I would not count on getting thousands of dollars in outside scholarships every year. With many outside scholarships, your chances of winning are about as good as winning the lottery, especially ones that are easy to apply to. And unless you wrote hundreds of essays, I'm guessing easy ones are what you focused on. How many of the scholarships you applied to are renewable for 4 years (or are large enough that they'll cover 4 years)? Have you considered that tuition will increase every year? For paid research internships, have you considered how much of your pay is going to go toward housing costs for the summer? And like scholarships, they're competitive programs, it's not something you can necessarily count on.
Also, how do you "know" that Seattle U and PLU won't be challenging? How challenging something is for someone is a very subjective measure that you can't really estimate from things like rankings and reviews. I'm not trying to get you to change your mind, I'm just trying to ensure you base your decision on "real" things, not just reasons you came up with after you had already made a decision in your mind and wishful thinking.
It's not easy to graduate from college and get started in life with a large student loan debt hanging over you. Of course if things go exactly as you plan it doesn't look like it'll be too bad...but things seldom go as planned. You have to decide if you're willing to take the chance to be in debt for a long, long time.
It's you're choice. You're the one whoes going to have to be paying it all back later. In the long run $5000 in loans per years isn't too bad, some people have twice that or more.
Facing debt or financial difficulties due to college is as common as nature and you breathing.
Well first off, what is your major? I'll come back and edit my answer