Fall is when parents of high school seniors start to save money for college. But if you’re like most parents, you both know how important a college degree is and worry about how much it will cost.
In a recent survey of parents done by Barnes & Noble Insights for College Ave Student Loans, 81% of parents agreed that going to college is important for their child’s future. At the same time, most parents surveyed agree that the cost of college is a bigger financial burden than it was in the past, that the cost is higher than they expected, and that it’s hard to figure out how to pay for college.
As you start making plans for your money, think about these tips:
Make a smart list for college:
Encourage your child to apply to both public and private schools, as merit aid from private schools can sometimes make them as cheap as public schools. By applying to more than one school, you can compare the financial aid packages and find a school that is not only a good fit for you academically and socially, but also financially.
Apply for help with money:
Make a list of the deadlines and requirements for financial aid, which vary by school and state, on a spreadsheet. Check with the financial aid office at your school to find out what paperwork you need.
For the 2023–2024 school year, the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, became available on October 1. Fill out the FAFSA this fall and each year your child goes to college after that. Doing so is the key to getting federal student loans, grants, work-study, and scholarships. This is also when you can start filling out the CSS Profile, an online form that nearly 400 colleges, universities, professional schools, and scholarship programs use to give out more than $9 billion in financial aid each year.
Look for free money:
Have your high school student who wants to go to college look for and apply for reputable scholarships. Read the fine print to make sure you understand the terms. The College Ave Student Loans $1,000 monthly scholarship sweepstakes is one that is easy to apply for. 1
Look at your money:
According to a survey from College Ave, 92% of parents plan to help pay for their child’s college education. 61% of them plan to use their income and savings to pay for it. Take some time this fall to look at your finances and figure out how much you can put in without putting your retirement goals at risk. You may need to think outside the box. For example, a survey found that 21% of parents get extra money from a side job.
Prep your student:
College is where many people learn how to handle money for the first time. Give your child the money skills they’ll need to start out on their own. Talk about how to make and stick to a budget, how to save for emergencies, and how to avoid spending based on what your friends do. For example, just because a friend eats out or travels a lot doesn’t mean your child has to do the same. Talk with them about how they can help pay for their education as well. Your child will be more likely to do well with money if he or she sets financial goals now.
Collegeavestudentloans.com/blog has a lot of free tips, resources, guides, and advice from financial experts that can help you figure out how to pay for college.
Many families are surprised by how much college costs. Don’t let yourself be surprised. To get your finances in order, use the next year to look into all your options and make a plan.