Skyrocketing college costs are forcing Howard County students and their parents to trim their search for schools, and take a second look at state and regional institutions.
Yesterday, dozens of students and their parents shopped for colleges at the Howard County College Fair at Atholton High School. The fair featured 183 colleges as diverse as the Baltimore International Culinary College, Rutgers University and York College of Pennsylvania.
According to a recent national College Board report, the average cost of attending public colleges and universities increased 10 percent this fall to $2,315 a year. Room and board brings the total to $5,841. At two-year schools, the average increased to $1,292.
Atholton High student Kim Gaeta has limited herself to spending $15,000 a year on higher education. As a result, she and her family have eliminated many small, expensive New England colleges in favor of schools in this state, such as Villa Julie College in Stevenson.
"A lot of them haven't been what we're looking for," said Kim, who wants to be a marine biologist.
Hammond High junior Lindsay McCaskill said she is "going for every scholarship possible," to finance her college education.
Howard Community College student Ravi Petwal said he and his brother, Vijay, will have to rely on work/study programs and federal financial aid to realize their dreams of becoming an engineer and a doctor.
"There is no money for them to spend," said Carole Conors, a member of Columbia's Abiding Savior Lutheran Church, who was escorting Ravi, his brother and another student through the college fair.
Maryanne Bongiovani of Ellicott City said she is depending primarily on savings to send her son, Jeff, to school. "I don't think scholarships pay that much," she said, estimating that a scholarship would pay about one-third or less of her son's education.
Admissions counselors say rising college costs are forcing students to attend institutions close to home.
"Maybe people are deciding to stay home because of costs," said Britt Reynolds, admissions counselor for the University of Maryland, College Park.
He said the University of Maryland is a bargain for local students who paid about $8,000 last year for tuition, fees, room and board.