For those looking at post-secondary education, the costs associated with a college degree can be staggering. Total student debt for all American college students is estimated at $1 trillion (source: CSNBC), while the average cost of a 4-year college program is over $23,000. With the cost of education on the rise, understanding the financial options available can help ease the burden of a college education on both students and their families.
Registered educational savings plans can help to afford college expenses. Money can be added at any time, tax-free. While these savings plans are best used to incrementally set aside money as the student grows up, they can be started at any time as long as the student it’s intended for is under the age of 18.
There are several types of scholarships which may be available to your student. Many colleges offer competitive entrance scholarships as a way to attract the best and brightest. Students with higher high school academic achievements may be eligible for larger scholarships. If your student is involved in sports, look for available athletic scholarships. There are also many private scholarships and grants associated with specific colleges which have been set up by alumni. Be sure to check out what awards may exist for upper-level college students- some internal awards are only available to students entering their final year of college.
A college or student loan works just like any other bank loan. Generally student loans are offered with a lower rate of interest for the time the student is in college, although loan scheduling and details will depend on the financial institution. Federal loans are also available to both students and parents, and are a highly common method of financing college educations.
Student employment is another financial option available to support education. Students generally find jobs during the summer months between years, but many are choosing to balance their studies with part-time work during the school term. Student employment can be a great way to make some much-needed cash, as well as provide valuable work experience. Many colleges coordinate paid co-op or internship opportunities, and some colleges offer work-study programs which provides on-campus jobs to students. Exploring employment options or part-time study may find other ways to pay for college without sinking into debt.