Financial aid experts from Duke University, Winthrop University, USC-Lancaster and USC-Union will talk with parents and students at Clover High School this evening in a workshop intended to show families that higher education is an option they can afford.
The event, called "Paying for College," is intended for students in grades 8 through 12. It starts at 5:30 p.m. in the Clover High auditorium.
With college tuition on the rise in a down economy, families across the country are worried about whether they can afford to send their children to institutions of higher learning.
"It used to be expected you would just get a student loan," said Kenneth Cole, USC-Lancaster's director of financial aid. "More people are realizing that's not how it really works."
Cole will lead sessions on how to apply for financial aid and the types of aid available and what college really costs.
College fairs where schools recruit students are common on high school campuses, but Clover school leaders said they wanted to go beyond that.
"This isn't a college night where you can expect to see dozens of colleges touting their wares, but rather a night chock full of informative sessions about ways to pay for college," Clover schools spokesman Mychal Frost said.
Clover High Guidance Director Jennifer Forrest designed tonight's event to complement a college fair that Clover High held last semester.
More than 30 colleges from across the Carolinas as well as the University of Alabama and military academies sent representatives.
It gave students a chance to compare colleges and see which they preferred.
"The next logical question," Forrest said, "is 'Here are the colleges I want to attend. How do I pay for that?'"
Speakers will cover a variety of topics including how Duke and other selective universities assess candidates for admission, how to apply for financial aid and how to afford a school that fits students' needs without breaking the bank.
"It's a huge concern for most students - how they're going to pay for college," said Megan Rolf, a Winthrop University admissions representative who will speak tonight.
"It's good that they get the information early, because a lot of times they're surprised by what's available."
Financial planners from Newport Financial, BB&T, Wells Fargo and Family Trust Federal Credit Union also will be on hand tonight to talk with families.
"It's not to push any one financial instrument but to bring some together so our parents can compare," Forrest said.
While planning for college and finding a way to afford it can be daunting and stressful, Forrest said the intention tonight is to alleviate some of that and show "it is possible to go to college and pay for it."