‘We should have learned to save a lot earlier’

Even though private schools typically come with a higher price tag than public schools, Amber Buie encouraged her parents not to rule out her dream school, Judson University.

In the end, Judson was the school that offered her the best financial aid package, and now the Whiteland Community High School senior will pay nearly $10,000 less per year than if she had attended Ball State University, her second choice.

“Even though people say private schools are a lot more money, always, always, no matter what, apply to private schools because they’ll actually end up giving you more money than public schools,” Buie said.

Although the annual cost of attending Judson University in Elgin, Illinois, is about $37,000, Buie will pay about $8,000 per year.

Buie, who plans to major in interior design with a minor in music, received $18,000 per year in scholarships. Part of the money was due to good grades and part came from submitting an art portfolio to the school and a clarinet and choir audition. In order to secure those scholarships, the Buie family had to make extra trips to the college and organize art pieces and sheet music, but it was worth it, her father, Scott Buie, said. Judson also gave her another $2,000 in need-based aid.

With her tuition costs down to $16,000 per year, her parents agreed to pay for half the cost, and their daughter would pay the rest.

“We should have learned to save a lot earlier,” Scott Buie said.

With many of the scholarship applications Amber Buie filled out, the family never got a response to find out if she won the scholarships. She applied for about 10 scholarships, outside Judson’s financial aid office, but she was not awarded any of them.

The Buies attended a financial aid seminar last year, where the speaker said that 60 to 70 percent of the scholarship dollars given to students come from the school directly, Scott Buie said. So instead of wasting time on applying to scholarships where there could be 500 applicants, Scott Buie decided to talk to as many Judson financial aid officials as possible.

The key to making sure that his daughter got all of the scholarships she could was by being persistent and following up with scholarship or loan officials, Scott Buie said. If he did not hear back from the university after a few days of waiting, he would call or email to follow up.

Amber Buie will still have to take out student loans to cover her education costs. She plans to work once she gets into college and pay off her student loans little-by-little.

“It’s so hard to grab up scholarships,” Amber Buie said. “I’m just going to do everything in my power to pay off a little bit each week while I’m in college so it won’t be as drastic when I get out.”

The Buie File

Name: Amber Buie

High School: Whiteland Community High School

GPA: 3.94

Parents: Scott and Ann Buie

College: Judson University

Major: Interior design with a minor in music

Cost of one year of tuition and room and board: $37,620

How she’ll pay:

  • Academic scholarship through Judson University: $12,000 per year
  • Clarinet scholarship: $1,500 per year
  • Choir scholarship: $1,500 per year
  • Art portfolio scholarship: $3,000 per year
  • Needs-based aid from Judson University: $3,620
  • Parents paying half: $8,000
  • The rest: Student loans