One of the most important things to remember about saving money for college is starting early. Typically, this is easier said than done. If you’re starting very early and saving for college, there are great investments that you can make.
Another tip to remember is to start the scholarship search early and to make sure your child keeps his or her grades up during high school and throughout college. Scholarships can add up and can save you a lot of money in the long run! Don’t rely on the college or university to give you free money. Get out there and search for it! And if you are a last minute decision maker, ask the financial aid office what scholarships are available for new students and students past their first year! Remember: planning is key and you shouldn’t stop once your child is in school!
My top tips for paying for college:
1. Utilize high school activities and academics. These activities may lead to scholarships or recommendations. Personal refs are critical for scholarships and college apps!
2. Find a school that matches your style. Are you getting what you pay for? Take the time to find out where your money is going.
3. Complete the necessary standardized testing. Did someone say SAT/ACT? Prep courses are beneficial. Utilize all preparation materials so your child can choose their school of preference. Not the other way around.
4. Ensure that you are familiar with the college application process. College apps cost money, and guess what: they are time consuming! Take the time to understand and get a feel for the documents and forms your child is completing.
5. Look for scholarships EARLY. Money from scholarships is not awarded overnight! It takes time to complete the application so it will take time to find out who will win the money.
6. Watch out for SCAMS! You should NEVER have to pay for a scholarship search, and you should NEVER have to pay for the FAFSA! Hey, it’s not called the FREE Application for Federal Student Aid for nothing!
7. Understand college expenses. What is the “student fee?” Ask questions and what exactly the charges and costs are paying for or covering.
8. Research your financial aid eligibility. Never walk into a financial aid office without already knowing what grants and loans you may be eligible for. Completing your taxes early and researching federal loan amounts will help.
9. Complete the FAFSA as soon as possible each year. Some grants run out at schools so the earlier the FAFSA is done the better!
10. Explore federal loans for students and parents. Clean credit is the best credit, and a parent loan can be deferred! Make sure your credit will be approved so you can utilize the PLUS loan to cover additional costs.
Follow these steps and you will be on your way to a great school, great education, all while saving money!