Students talk picking a college in tough economy

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News 12 First at Five / Tuesday, May 28, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- May is the month where students begin to celebrate their educational achievements, and students from Butler High are ready to get their diplomas.

"Our line is 122 strong today," said Alicia McLemore.

McLemore, the senior counselor for the school, says all of the grads won't be going on to college.

"Out of the 122, 40 to 45 have been accepted into colleges -- most of them have been accepted into their first choice," she said.

Zadarian Thomas was surrounded by family before the ceremony. He says he won't be able to attend his top school for one reason.

"College these days are very expensive, and with my family's income and cost, I couldn't go to the college of my choice," Thomas said.

His first choice came with a $40,000 price tag a year. Now he's going to a school that will cost him half of that.

"I'm choosing to go to the University of West Georgia," he said.

Maria Ibarra is the class salutatorian. Her first choice is GRU, but there's a big hurdle at home, too.

"The economy. I didn't know what opportunities I would have or if we could afford it," Ibarra said.

McLemore encourages students to apply for scholarships like HOPE, but that's not her only advice.

"The number one rule I try to teach the children is don't take out loans your freshmen year," she said.

But she says if you have to, do it, because your future is worth it.

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