Published: Wednesday, February 29, 2012

School counselors say it's not too late to find ways to pay for college

  • Senior Molly Martin (left) and School-to-Work Coordinator Erika Spellman look through a pile of scholarships for Martin, who will be attending Central...

    Weekly Herald/CHRIS GOODENOW

    Senior Molly Martin (left) and School-to-Work Coordinator Erika Spellman look through a pile of scholarships for Martin, who will be attending Central Washington University, during lunch period, Monday, Feb. 27, 2012 at Mountlake Terrace High School.

Resources to help pay for college abound – teens just have to know where to look.
Money is available for those students who need assistance as well as for those who are simply willing to look for it, said Ann Nault, a counselor at Meadowdale High School.
Career counselors in the Edmonds School District help students navigate through the often overwhelming process of applying for financial aid, combing through scholarships and reading the fine print on student loans.
The combination of the unsteady economy and rising college tuition costs isn't necessarily deterring students from attending college, said Erika Spellman, school-to-work coordinator at Mountlake Terrace High School.
However, the economic climate is giving students pause as they rethink which schools they can afford.
“Students are more apprehensive and overwhelmed by the process,” Spellman said.
Students don't focus on what they cannot afford. Rather, they ask where they can attend that's within their reach, said Jillian Wellington, school-to-work coordinator at Edmonds-Woodway High School.
“Fear (of how to pay for college) is being used in a productive way,” she said.
The challenge doesn't stop at admission. Tuition costs likely will rise each year students are in college, and then there are the costs of supplies, books, transportation and room and board fees.
At Mountlake Terrace, Spellman and her colleagues encourage students to apply for financial aid, even if they think they won't qualify. Lower wages as a result of the recession could mean families qualify for more financial assistance than they did in the past, Spellman said.
Students also should apply for grants, loans and scholarships. Scholarship websites such as and that of the state Higher Education Coordinating Board are available along with resources for Latino students who aren't legal citizens and can't apply for financial aid.
“Scholarship season is really heavy right now,” Spellman said.
Families who waited until the student's senior year to begin saving for college can look at the resources they have and support their student with what they've got, Edmonds-Woodway's Wellington added.
“It's not too late to consider your options,” she said.
At Meadowdale, students are advised to not limit their search by what their family believes the college will cost. Once the student has applied, been accepted and receives the financial aid offer from each college, that is the time to then compare offers carefully and decide what makes the best sense for the student and family, Nault said.
“Colleges do not want to bring students in only to have them leave because of finances. Colleges and universities want to be a partner in this process,” she said.
More info
The Edmonds School District hosts a college planning night for junior and sophomore families each year. This year's event is scheduled for 7 p.m. March 15 at Meadowdale High School, 6002 168th St. SW, Lynnwood.
School guidance
Keep tabs on deadlines, recommendations and resources to pay for college through school career counseling offices:
Mountlake Terrace:, click on “Career Center”
Edmonds-Woodway:, click on “College & Career”
Meadowdale:, click on “Counseling”
Lynnwood:, click on “Career Center”
Scholarship sites