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March 19, 2014

Jasmine Boyd-Perry being interviewed for The Takeaway in the WGBH studios. (WGBH/Liz Ross)

It’s college admissions season and high school seniors are figuring out which schools they want to attend—and if they can afford to go to them. With skyrocketing costs, analysts say it's more important than ever that students fully understand the financial implications of their decisions.

In partnership with On Campus, The Takeaway recently talked with Mike Wasserman, the Massachusetts executive director of the non-profit Bottom Line which helps disadvantaged and first generation students apply for and graduate from college, and Jasmine Boyd-Perry, a junior at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Wasserman discussed the role perceptions play when it comes time to make a college decision -- should students make a choice based on financial realities or what they've always dreamed of?

"I think there's a culture of the way we talk about college which is just go to your dream school, just make it work. Whatever it costs, it's worth it. More and more people are starting to realize it's more of a buying decision."

For Jasmine Boyd-Perry, being realistic has meant the difference between drowning in debt and shouldering a bearable burden.

"When you get your financial aid package back you think "This is amazing, I'm getting $20,000." But what does this $20,000 break down to? Then, how are you going to make up the extra $30,000 and what does that mean for you, what does it mean for your family?

What it comes down to, is sometimes making a tough choice. 

"Do I want to pay this much money for a name, for a dream?" Jasmine asked.

Check out a video of Jasmine's #1 college decision tip.

What do you think? Is going into debt for your dream school worth it? Should students compromise?

confronting cost, Bottom Line, the Takeaway

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