When children are in their preschool and elementary years, many parents begin saving for college with all the best intentions. Events often happen that aren’t anticipated, and sometimes the college fund gets tapped into long before their kids start high school.
Many a parent has found themselves wondering how in the world they are going to finance their child’s college education. Some give up not realizing there are options for attending college even when money is tight.
Here are a few things to consider when wondering how to finance your child’s college education:
1) Many colleges have a student population containing a large percentage of attendees using financial aid benefits. Financial aid is often used not only toward the cost of tuition but also housing, meals, fees, and books.
2) Work/Study is another option for many students. Positions are available on or off campus on a part-time basis so as not to interfere with a student’s college studies. Sometimes these positions even offer college credit in exchange for the work contributed.
3) Some consider a student loan a last resort, but you can find student loans with very low interest rates that are not scheduled for repayment until after the student graduates or ceases to attend college.
The idea is to allow a student to complete their education in order to qualify for a good job position that provides sufficient income to allow repayment of the loan over a period of time. The loan payments are usually very low and spread over an extended duration so as not to overwhelm or financially stress the newly employed graduate.
4) One excellent source of financial information is the financial aid office of the school your senior is planning to attend. The staff is knowledgeable and up to date regarding what is available in the way of loans, aid, scholarships, and work study programs; their experience will save you the time and work of having to research this information on your own.
5) There are many different types of scholarships. Some are affiliated with a specific school and others are not affiliated with any. High value scholarships tend to “reward” hard working students, so applicants are going to be strongly evaluated for their high school GPA and ACT/SAT scores. Not all scholarships are based on GPA and ACT/SAT scores, but generally the higher both of these numbers are, the better.
6) Many students who work co-op or part time during high school land themselves in good positions with companies willing to contribute to the cost of a college education. Some require an agreement to work during breaks from college or after graduation, while others consider the contribution as time already “served.”
Consider All Options – The Good and Bad News
The good news is that assistance is available. The bad news is it does take some time and paperwork to apply for aid, scholarships, work study, and loans. Don’t automatically assume that because your college fund was tapped out or maybe never even existed that your senior cannot attend college. You are not alone; many parents face this same dilemma.
Many college bound seniors have successfully completed secondary educations without having millionaires for parents. Using the steps above, start the process early in the high school year so you are certain to meet all deadlines and have sufficient time to explore all the opportunities available for your college bound senior.