Inside of the DePaul University bookstore.

With the rising cost of college tuition, many students rely on financial aid to pay for their tuition, books, and other fees. The current overall cost of attendance makes this a necessity for many, but despite this, there’s no guarantee that financial aid, both private and federal, will be available to cover the whole cost. This prospect often spells bad news for many prospective college students.

For Josh Barri, a student who faces some learning challenges, there has been nothing but good news. He received scholarships from 15 different colleges and universities that resulted in more than $1 million in potential financial aid according to a local source.

Josh attends JSerra Catholic High School in California whose emphasis isn’t solely centered around getting into an Ivy League or big name college. Instead, the staff focuses on helping students find the best fit for their needs as a student and an individual. In a way, they selectively optimize one’s college choice based on specific needs and requirements of an individual.

JSerra Catholic students attend workshops that educate on how to take tests, write essays, gather recommendation letters, interview, and choose a college. The school doesn’t pressure kids to take AP classes or set unrealistic expectations. They tell students and parents that there is a college for every kid; it’s just a matter of finding the right one. Despite this seemingly laissez faire approach, some students end up accomplishing some impressive goals with this formula.

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This formula worked out perfectly for Josh who wanted to stay in the Catholic education environment. His list of four-year scholarships includes some big names: DePaul, $80,000; Catholic University of America, $100,000; University of Portland, $92,000; and Seton Hall, $106,500. Josh hasn’t decided on a college yet, but he does plan on becoming a lawyer.

Students who aren’t as lucky as Josh don’t need to let student loans become a burden. This can be avoided or limited easily so long as the right information is available. Students and their families need to educate themselves on how much certain schools cost and what they can actually afford. This can be done by taking a look at a school’s graduate student loan default rate.

For example, according to The Student Loan Report, most of Josh’s schools have low student loan default rates. DePaul’s rate is at 3.37 percent. Catholic University’s rate stands at 2.58 percent. University of Portland has a default rate of 1.13 percent. There was no information provided for Seton Hall.

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