East Los Angeles College
For most kids, every day brings a new career opportunity. One day, these kids might think about working as actors. The next, they might think about law enforcement, and the next day brings dreams of veterinary glory.
If you’re chasing that perfect California career, even though childhood is long gone, East Los Angeles College (ELAC) could be just right for you.
This two-year college provides courses in more than 50 different fields of study, according to the school’s website. That means you could use your time at ELAC to try out a few different types of courses, until you found one that seemed like the perfect fit. After two years, you could apply those credits to the university degree of your dreams.
Enrolling at ELAC comes with great benefits, but there are a number of costs involved. Here’s what you need to know about your expenses, and the steps you can take to ensure that you can pay your bills when they’re due.
Books and Supplies
As a student at ELAC, books and supplies are a must. You’ll learn a lot in classroom lectures and hands-on lab assignments, but you’ll also need to perform independent study, so you can really master all the key concepts of your class. Since you can’t do a mind-meld with your teachers to prove your knowledge, you’ll need tools that can help you demonstrate what you’ve learned.
Books can be a big drag on a student’s budget, but ELAC offers some innovative programs that can help. For example, the bookstore offers a book rental program. Rather than shelling out for an entire book, you’ll simply rent a copy that the school owns. The prices for those rentals can be incredibly low, too. For example, the bookstore’s website suggests that an anatomy book could be rented for $20. That’s the same amount you might spend on a pizza. By renting a book through this program, you could keep your book budget well under control.
When it comes to supplies, computers top the list of expenses. These detailed machines make research a snap, and putting together a report is almost impossible without a computer, but they can also be very expensive to purchase and maintain. Some students worry about purchasing equipment that’s so attractive to California thieves.
ELAC students can solve these problems by renting a laptop. The Student Activities Center website suggests that laptops can be checked out for a 24-hour period, with fees accruing only if students keep the computers for longer periods of time. Students who simply can’t afford to buy a computer, but who need a machine like this in order to complete an important project, may find that rentals are a great way to save money while getting work done.
Students who are fortunate enough to own computers may not be able to afford all of the software that keeps a computer running, and without some kinds of software, a computer is essentially worthless. After all, a student who has no word processing software can’t do things like write and print reports. Why even have a computer? ELAC can help. The school’s website suggests that students get discounts on all kinds of software produced by both Microsoft and Adobe. ELAC students can also get good coverage on high-speed internet service, so they can keep their computers plugged into research sources. All of these discounts could be vital to the success of ELAC students.
Typically, when people think about college life, they picture dorm living. That’s because publications like U.S. News and World Report suggest that “most” students live in on-campus housing. That may be true for large institutions like the United States Air Force Academy, which has 100 percent of the student body living on site, but it’s not common for ELAC. Most students there have to find their own housing. Commuter schools just don’t have the space to house students, and in most cases, students prefer to make their own arrangements.
ELAC is located just 6 miles from the LA Civic Center, according to the school’s website, and that means the school is nestled inside one of the most dense commercial spaces in the country. There aren’t acres of apartments around the campus that students can rent. Instead, there are a lot of restaurants, theatres, and other commercial spots that just aren’t made for living.
Not far away, however, there are spots that are made for living. Unfortunately, those spots can be outside of a student’s budget. Writers for Curbed Los Angeles suggest that the area is going through a sort of restructuring. Homes that were small and affordable are being torn down in order to build single-family mansions. Apartment buildings are being refurbished to cater to the high-paying set. Affordable homes are moving out of rent controls and into the open market, where they’re being snapped up by wealthy buyers or renters. All of that makes LA a pretty expensive place to live. In fact, Curbed Los Angeles writers suggest that a person earning a median income would need to spend about half of that money on rent in LA.
Students can’t change the economics of a city. Even politicians have a hard time doing that. But students who want to go to ELAC do have options that can help them to keep their rental costs down, so they can get the degrees they want. For starters, that means shopping for price.
Cities in transition like LA aren’t easy to characterize. While they may look all the same on the outside, they may have little pockets of difference that savvy shoppers can find. For example, a neighborhood going through gentrification might seem as though it’s packed to the gills with mansions, and the average price of the home might be quite high, but there might be one or two homes tucked away that could be very inexpensive, right next door to those mansions. The key is to keep looking.
Browsing online rental ads can help, as can walking through the neighborhoods and looking for “room for rent” signs. Just looking and being willing to take a risk can result in the perfect LA apartment at a low cost.
Finding a roommate can also help to reduce the cost of living. When two bodies share the same roof, they also share many of the expenses involved with that roof, and in tech-savvy California, it’s easy to find a roommate. The Los Angeles Times suggests that there are several different apps that can connect California residents with the roommates they need. One such app, Roommates, uses Facebook profiles to make a good match. Users can swipe through profiles, looking for people who share connections with them, and then arrange to meet in real life to share apartment needs. These sorts of technologies could help ELAC students get all sorts of help with finding a roommate, and that could make rental life easier.
Regardless of whether students live alone or with partners, they’ll need to find a low-cost way to get to campus. Parking near the school can be difficult to find, and cars come with expenses that can break a student’s budget. Thankfully, the weather in LA is typically mild all year round, and that makes all sorts of transportation options possible. Students can:
Students with a less active bent can even take public transportation. Any or all of these options could make getting to class less of a financial burden.
If you don’t meet California residency requirements, you’ll be required to pay the entire cost of your tuition, and those fees can be quite hefty. As an outsider, you’re just not entitled to the free source of education residents get, and it isn’t at all unusual for schools to charge non-residents just a little more for the privilege of attending a California school.
Whether you’re a resident or a non-resident, you may hope to work to fund your education. That can be a smart idea, as the money you make while you’re in school could help to cover your living and housing expenses, reducing the need for you to borrow money in order to make ends meet.
Unfortunately, the job market in California can be quite difficult. An analysis from the Los Angeles Times suggests that employment in the middle sector of the economy in California is stagnating. That means people who would take these jobs are often forced to take lower-paying jobs, and they might need two or three of these jobs in order to make ends meet.
That can have a trickle-down effect college students can feel. If you thought you might fund your ELAC education by working at a restaurant, you might find that you’re competing for a job with people who aren’t going to school and who have much more experience than you do. They might make more attractive job candidates than you do, and they might get hired before you do. That could make working for tuition tough.
Also, having a job can make it hard for you to work on the coursework you need to master in order to graduate. You might not have the time to really study and hit the books, when you’re required to go to work and punch a clock each and every day. If you work, you might take fewer classes at ELAC each term, and that could make your quest for a degree take longer to complete. All of these factors could make working seem just a little less attractive.
If jobs are hard to find and unattractive to keep, there are other options available.
The ELAC Financial Aid office devotes a web page to announcements, and often, these have to do with upcoming scholarship deadlines. You could browse this section of the website to find out more about scholarships you’re eligible for, and the steps you’ll need to take in order to enroll in these programs. Scholarships like this can be an excellent option for ELAC, because they provide you with a form of money that you’ll never be required to pay back.
You can also access federal forms of aid. That work begins with a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (or FAFSA). Here, you’ll provide information about your finances and the finances of your family. That data will be reviewed by federal loan processors, and you’ll be provided with an offer letter that details how much aid you’re eligible for. Some aid might come in the form of grants (which you won’t have to pay back), but some aid comes in the form of loans that you will be required to repay.
If you choose to accept a loan for your ELAC schooling, the financial aid office can help you to go through the steps you’ll need to get your money and handle your loan wisely. In no time at all, you’ll be well on the way to a solid education at a price you can afford.