Up & Coming Weekly

September 12, 2023

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 19 of 24

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM SEPTEMBER 13-19, 2023 UCW 19 e cost of products and services continues to rise and organizations everywhere have increasingly been feeling the pressure to reevaluate budgets. It's no different in school districts nationwide, with school boards making difficult decisions about which programs to keep and which will have to go in order to save money. Music and arts programs often are the first to be cut when school budgets are tightened. e organization Save the Music says that, during the Great Recession in 2008 and 2009, per-pupil spending in public schools decreased by approximately 7 percent across the country. is led to a trickle- down effect that resulted in the cancellation of art and music programs. Since then, many districts have continued to cut arts programs due to budget limitations. COVID-19 also did little to help the situation. Art program cutbacks are rarely met with open arms, and that resistance has a lot to do with the positive effects such offerings have on students' academic performance. Better test performance Numerous studies have found a correlation between early introduction to music education and a number of benefits for children. Music education can help develop communication skills, brain plasticity, language, and motor skills. A study conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles used a database of more than 25,000 middle and high school students. e researchers found that students involved in arts performed better on standardized achievement tests than students with lower arts involvement. Furthermore, data from 2015 from e College Board, which produces the SAT, found students who took four years of arts and music classes while in high school scored an average of 92 points higher on their SATs than students who only took one-half year or less. Improved emotional states In addition to better performance on tests, a review in Frontiers in Psychology examined several studies linking arts and aesthetic experiences with "broad improvements" in people's emotional states. ose improvements included greater psychological and physical well- being. Community involvement Participation and even appreciation of the arts can have an impact as well. Researchers from the Department of Public Administration at the University of Illinois Chicago found that being an art curator or audience member leads to high levels of civic engagement and social tolerance. e support and therapy company Evolve Treatment Centers reports that involvement in music and arts leads to overall higher GPAs, higher scores in math and reading and a reduced risk of behavioral problems and suspensions. Music and arts education are important to students' development. Keeping these programs alive in schools can benefit students in many ways. How the arts benefit academic performance by STAFF REPORT College has become the traditional next step for many of today's students despite its high price tag. According to information from Education Data Initiative, the average cost of college in the United States is now $35,551 per student per year, including books, supplies, and daily living expenses. However, many schools cost much more annually. Colleges in Canada are not free to attend, but they are considerably less expensive than American schools, particularly because some are subsidized by provincial governments. International students will pay more for Canadian colleges and universities than domestic students. Families facing the prospect of college on the horizon would undoubtedly like to do all they can to make college more affordable. ere are many different ways to pay for college tuition. e following are some of the paths students and their families can take. Savings and investment accounts Some guardians feel that it is their responsibility to pay for college, while others say that it is up to the students to handle some, if not all, of the costs. Most people cannot afford to pay college tuition bills each semester as they would a utility bill or mortgage. at makes it essential for families to begin saving for college very early on. People can put funds in bank accounts or tax-advantaged investment opportunities, and Education Savings Accounts, such as Coverdell accounts and 529 Plans. It's important to note that investment accounts have a higher percentage of risk than low-interest savings accounts, particularly because they are tied to investments. However, such accounts boast the potential for greater growth. Families must weigh the pros and cons accordingly. Financial aid One of the first steps prospective college students in the United States who need help paying for college should do is fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. is form will help the government, as well as individual schools, determine financial need and aid eligibility. e FAFSA will ask for personal and family income information as well as tax records to determine eligibility. It also will establish an Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which will be renamed a Student Aid Index (SAI) for a given school year. It is a formula that the Department of Education uses to crunch family financial data and determine eligibility for financial aid, says Lending Tree. ose with lower EFCs/SAIs generally receive more financial aid. ere are ways to lower EFCs if families start well before the college application process. Grants and scholarships Some schools offer grant money or scholarships to students based on academic performance, alumni ties or other factors, which does not have to be paid back. Students also can pursue private scholarships and grants through outside organizations, such as parents' employers. Loans After all financial aid, personal savings, investments, and scholarships/grants have been exhausted, student or parental loans may be needed to round out the cost of attendance. If possible, students should opt to, at the least, make interest payments on student loans while in school. In the U.S., lenders require students to take out a Federal Direct Loan prior to applying for private loans. It's essential to shop interest rates and payback rules for each loan to secure the best deal. College tuition is expensive, but students and their families have various options to plan for and potentially mitigate those costs. How to pay for college by STAFF REPORT MONEY EDUCATION

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