Every family has to find ways to pay for college. Is getting enough money to pay for a full degree without going into massive debt a pipe dream or reality?
Let’s face it. College is expensive. Most parents cringe at the thought of paying for four (if you are lucky, five is average) years’ worth of tuition and expenses. Most students haven’t even given thought to how they are going to pay for college or pay off student/parent loans once they have finished. Planning ahead can mean the difference between attending college or not going at all. Many parents are wondering if the ROI (Return on Investment) is worth it. Let’s assume the positive, below are steps you need to start in order to be successful with this process.
How soon should you begin planning?
The sooner the better. Of course, many families do not have the finances available to begin planning as soon as their kids are born. Proactive parents can get a head start on the process by setting aside just $100.00 per month in a safe investment with steady growth that can make a huge dent in your future college bill. The cost of college increases 5% to 7% yearly. Starting early and establishing a good college savings and funding plan is essential for your child’s future college education.
As time progresses, you should begin exploring college options as early as middle school. This will give you time to prepare your student to understand the complexity of this complicated process.
Staying focused during the crucial four years of high school.
As your student enters high school, they should focus time on study habits and good grades; Your family should familiarize yourselves with ACT and SAT prep as early as middle school. You should check college admission and scholarships requirements to get a grasp on test scores and GPA’s requirements. There is one more piece of the puzzle that many students and their parents may not be aware of. Drum roll, community service and leadership qualities can make the difference whether your student is accepted to their school of choice. Most highly rated schools want well rounded students that will give back to society.
Families with a college funding plan get more financial aid and get into better schools.
By having a plan, you and your student will be able to stay motivated to the task at hand and make sure the tools are in place when it’ time to apply to college. You will also be able to make an educated decision that fit their student’s criteria as well as their parent’s financial guidelines.
You should be involved and assist your student when they are attempting to make huge life decisions. It is important that they understand exactly what will be expected of them, but also have the tools that they need to reach their goals in life.