Paying for college can be a real challenge for most families. It has a huge impact both on students and students parents not only in terms of cost but also in terms of earning potential. Usually, students are forced to do additional part-time job and study at the same time which can have a bad effect on their results. On top of that, many parents need to save up for years to be able to pay for their kid’s college education. According to “How America saves for college” study, more than half of the parents who have kids under 18 have some savings in their bank account. Collecting savings for a college education is a long-term investment.
Our checklist can help you cover all your financing options, and minimize the costs of attending college.
Search for scholarships
The best thing about scholarships is that you don’t have to pay them back like student loans and there are thousands of them available at any moment. Even though most students start searching for a scholarship at the end of their high school, its always a better option to start searching for scholarships much earlier. For instance, Evans Scholars Foundation awards full-ride scholarships to hundreds of golf caddies throughout the year. However, in order to qualify, you need to be a caddie for at least two years which means you need to start caddying during your sophomore year.
Use a 529 plan to save money ahead of time
Most American families use 529 plan to save money for their children’s college education because it allows them to gain a tax benefit as they set the money aside for school. Although This plan is an excellent option for families with young children, it’s worth opening a 529 account even if your child is already in high school. Keep in mind that this plan heavily relies on stock market returns meaning that its advisable to have a backup plan in case of a downturn before college. However, 529 plan is often underutilized because parents don’t realize that as an option for paying college education and because they usually don’t start saving money earlier.
Negotiate with your school
One of the things parents are usually unaware of is the possibility to negotiate financial aid packages when they are accepted by the college. Most parents don’t even know that they should never accept the first package. Schools around the country offer around 80 billion dollars in financial aid discounts to their students. Almost 15 to 20 billion is reserved for aid appeals and almost half of that amount is usually not spent because people don’t know they can actually do that.
Get a side job while attending the college
Although working and studying is not a really good match because in most cases it can be very tiring and it doesn’t allow you to focus on your studies and results, sometimes there is no other option. There are a few approaches you may consider. For example, you may choose to work in the summer and save all that money to pay for the expenses during your college years. Also, you may choose to work full time and go to school part-time. In this case, you may qualify for tuition reimbursement through your job. No matter what option you choose, the most important thing is to find a great college job. Keep in mind, that working and saving at the same time will require careful planning and budgeting but it will be worthwhile in the long run.
Get a private student loan
Although getting a student loan is almost everybody’s option, this doesn’t necessarily have to be a painful solution. If you take a private student loan, it will help you bridge the funding college gap because in some cases they even come with lower interest rates than federal student loans. However, be mindful that you will need to meet credit requirements set by the private lender and that these loans don’t come with the same protections as federal loans. Making a decision to take a private student loan is never an easy task, but if you plan everything carefully, things will definitely pay off after some period of time.