The thought of paying for college can be overwhelming. You want your children to have every benefit possible, including a solid education at the school of their choice. When you look at the costs, however, the idea of doing so can be daunting. It helps to remember that there are a variety of ways to pay, and most families have the same concerns as you. One thing to keep in mind when working on finding funding for your child’s education is the need to let your child take the lead in the effort while being available for guidance and to provide needed information. Helping your child understand how much money can be saved by applying for scholarships, for example, allows them to borrow less money. You cannot, however, do this work for them.
Keep Overall Costs Low
If your child is passionate about a particular school, you may not want to discourage their choice. However, if their main concern is earning a degree, one way to make it much more affordable is by attending the first year or two at a local community college. This allows your child to take the general education courses required for their degree at a much more affordable price than at a state or private university. Living at home, and potentially working while doing so, also allows for a more affordable educational experience.
Look into Scholarships and Grants
The next step in paying for school is by finding resources that your child is not required to repay. Scholarships and grants are awarded and are essentially free money. With no need to repay this money, you want to be sure to use it as your first line of funding for college. Scholarships come from either the school your child plans to attend or from private sources. If you qualify for grants, the school’s financial aid office will notify you as part of your award package. To be sure your child qualifies for any money they are eligible for, be sure to fill out the FAFSA as early as possible. Because this form takes your finances into account, you will need to help your child or at least provide them with the needed information.
Once your child has lowered their tuition bill as much as possible, you will need to see how much money is required to fill in the gap between the cost of college and the amount of aid they receive. In some cases, the financial aid package from the school may cover all costs. You will probably find, however, that there is a gap in what you owe and what is included in the package. If there is money set aside for educational costs, this is a good way to spend them. If, however, there is no funding targeted to education, you don’t want to raid your retirement or other savings. Many private student loan companies offer affordable loan rates and friendly repayment terms. Taking out a private student loan will allow your child to attend college without financial hardship on your family.