College fair draws thousands of students and parents

October 10, 2011 (CHICAGO)

The Chicago National College Fair gave students a chance to network with hundreds of those schools and their parents could get some answers for their financial concerns.

Thousands filed into McCormick Place Monday for the college fair that drew about 470 colleges and universities

"This is the way that they're able to get the information without having to go to 1,000 different universities," said Gia Euler of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Shaunice Christopher of Spellman College said Illinois is one of the top five states every year for incoming freshmen.

Some high school seniors, like Ashley Delaney, used the fair to narrow their choices. She wants to find the top schools for environmental science.

"I know there will be scholarships for me to attend these universities, so I'm not too worried about that situation," she said.

The cost of college is weighing heavy on the minds of parents who wonder what kind of financial aid they can get.

"We're looking for scholarships, grants, anything that can help us out," Bridget Clark said. Said Katie Clark, "I want to be able to go to a good college, but I don't want to pay it off the rest of my life. I want to be able to enjoy it after I'm out."

Finances were such a concern, a seminar on how to pay for college was packed.

The speaker, high school counselor Frank Palmasani, said more and more college students are graduating with debt.

"Even though college costs have risen exponentially, the resources to obtain money at the federal and the state level have either been constant or decreased," he said.

College fair organizers said they don't want families to be discouraged because there are affordable options for higher education.

"We care about them so if we don't think they're going to be the right fit for our institution we more than likely will refer them somewhere else where we believe they are going be the right fit," college fair co-chair Eric Ruiz said.

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