In this continuing piece from last month, I explore both the cost for colleges and potential ways to pay for it.

The U.S. Census Bureau recently released the data from a 2011 American Community Survey (ACS), which examined the relationship between how far one goes in school and how much money one might make over the course of a 40-year career (from age 25 to 64). In simpler terms, is college worth the cost? With college tuitions soaring over $60,000 a year, this is a question families ought to be discussing. The results from the survey speak for itself. Education significantly pays off.

Estimated work-life earnings range from $936,000 for those with less than a high school education to $4.2 million for people with professional degrees. In this survey, synthetic life earnings "represent expected earnings over a 40-year time period for the population aged 25--64 who maintain full-time, year-round employment the entire time. Calculations are based on median annual earnings from a single point in time for eight 5-year age groups and multiplied by five."

â?¢ None to 8th grade: $936,000

â?¢ 9th to 12th grade: $1,099,000

â?¢ High school graduate: $1,371,000

â?¢ Some college $1,632,000

â?¢ Associate's degree: $1,813,000

â?¢ Bachelor's degree: $2,422,000

â?¢ Master's degree: $2,834,000

â?¢ Professional degree: $4,159,000

â?¢ Doctorate degree: $3,525,000

Source: U .S. Census Bureau, 2011 American Community Survey

People who hold bachelors degrees earn 77 percent more in a lifetime compared with those with only a high school diploma (TIME, Oct. 29, 2012). While it is evident that a college education is a good investment, families ought to consider the options available to them. Not every college costs $60,000, and there are great bargains to be found. Students should consider applying to a balanced list of colleges including in-state institutions and schools where they are highly competitive for admission, which may increase the probability of finding affordable options. Students should be applying to scholarships to help finance their education. Below is a small list of current scholarships accepting applications. Use the search engines at the bottom of the article to find more scholarships.

â?¢ U.S. Bank Internet Scholarship Program: Forty $1,000 scholarships are awarded in a random drawing. No essays and no minimum GPA are required. The program runs October through February. To apply, visit http://www.usbank.com/student-lending/scholarship.html.

â?¢ The Rise Scholarship Foundation, Inc. was established in 2010 to reward students with learning disabilities, who have shown determination, self advocacy and success in overcoming their difficulties and are pursuing post secondary education. Click here to access the application http://risescholarshipfoundation.org/rise-award/. Due Feb. 15, 2013.

â?¢ NEW! HOOD Sportsmanship Scholarship! Win a $5,000 Scholarship; Grade Point Average of 3.0 or higher, Varsity Athlete, and must have volunteered in local community. Visit Hood.com before Feb. 1, 2013.

â?¢ NEW! The Stephen Phillips Memorial Scholarship Fund: A four-year renewable scholarship to students with financial need who display academic excellence, a demonstrated sense of service to those around them, good character, and a strong work ethic. Awards are limited to residents of New England. In 2012, overall and renewal awards totaled about $2.7 million, of which $174,000 went to New Hampshire residents. Application deadline is May 1, 2013. http://www.phillips-scholarship.org.

â?¢ Arts Recognition and Talent Search: Pursue scholarships in the following categories -- DANCE, MUSIC, MUSIC/JAZZ, MUSIC/VOICE, FILM & VIDEO, VISUAL ARTS, PHOTOGRAPHY, WRITING. Visit web site www.nfaa.org or call 800-970-ARTS.

â?¢ AXA Achievement Scholarship: The AXA Foundation offers fifty-two $10,000 scholarships per year (one in each state, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico). The foundation also offers $15,000 in additional scholarships to ten national recipients. To apply, students need to demonstrate the following traits: ambition and drive, determination to set and reach goals, respect for self, family and community, and ability to succeed in college. Deadline: December 1, 2012. To apply, visit www.axa-achievement.com.

â?¢ Dr. Pepper Scholarship: http://www.drpepper.com. Just submit a one-minute video explaining why you deserve to win $2500 in tuition or a chance to compete for $123,000.

â?¢ NEW! KFC Scholar-Up to $20,000! To qualify high school seniors must: have a minimum GPA of 2.75; enroll in a public college or university within their state of legal residence, demonstrate financial need, be a U.S. citizen, plan to pursue a bachelor's degree. Application Open 12/1-2/8. http://www.kfcscholars.org.

â?¢ Excellent Search Engines for scholarships: www.schoolsoup.com, www.fastweb.com and www.finaid.com.

Ryan Aldrich is the director of College Counseling at The White Mountain School and is a certified educational planner. He can be reached at ryan.aldrich@whitemountain.org.

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