For most families, the mere mention of college tuition can trigger a full blown panic attack. The rising cost of tuition, books and room & board has most parents wondering how they are going to foot the college bill. With 1 kid in college and 5 more waiting in the wings, the financial burden of college is always at the forefront of my mind. I have done a lot of research on how to pay for college without going broke, now I have a game plan and the panic attacks are few and far between.
Wanna know what I learned? Awesome I can’t wait to fill you in and hopefully help you ease some of your college anxiety!
Most states have a dual enrollment program where high school students can attend college classes for both college and high school credit. Some states even offer this program at a substantial discount, or even completely FREE. If you have a motivated student, this can be a great way to cut some college costs before they even graduate from high school. States that offer discounted tuition are Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah and Washington. If you are lucky and live in Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont or Wyoming, dual enrollment tuition is picked up by the state or the student’s district. Each state/district has their rules on how many credits the student can take each semester. In Georgia (where we live), students can take up to 5 classes per semester for up to 2 semesters a year and 4 classes for the summer semester, for hardworking students this can mean obtaining their associates degree before they graduate high school all for free! Each state/college has it’s own separate grounds for acceptance and some states not listed may still have tuition assistance for dual enrollment, so please check with your state to find out the specifics!
Scholarships are the obvious choice for funding your child’s college education since they don’t require repayment. Even a small scholarship can help relieve some of the financial burden of college. Scholarships are available at a local, state and national level. To find out what scholarships you may qualify for make an appt with your child’s guidance counselor or visit the College Board’s Scholarship Finder website.
Grants are like scholarships in that they don’t require repayment, however they are usually for a specific need such as low income or a child of a military member that died in service, or in a specific field like secondary education in a low income school. A quick google search can lead you to the grant that may be right for your soon to be collegiate. Many universities offer their own grants in the form of free tuition for families making less than a certain amount per year. Some of the big ones include Princeton, Harvard, Stanford and MIT. If you make less than a certain amount (usually around $60,000 a year) if accepted, your student may qualify for free tuition and room & board. Tuition only grants at these universities are also available to families making less than $100,000 per year. Please check with potential universities to see what kind of grant assistance they can offer you based on your financial needs.
Getting your associates degree or even bachelor at a community college can cut the overall cost of tuition by more than half. If getting a degree from a large university is important to your child, consider getting an associates degree at the community college and then transferring that to a larger college. Credits can’t be lost in this process and may be a great option depending on what school your child ultimately wants to end up at.
Loans aren’t as scary as one may think, if done right a college loan can ease the financial burden. College Ave Loans is a great place to start when looking for college loans. With no origination fee and a lower fixed interest rate than the federal program, College Ave Student Loan’s new parent loan offers qualified parent borrowers an average savings of $1,000 vs. the Federal Direct Parent Plus program. They also offer more flexibility to fit your specific financial situation than many other private parent loan options, including the option to get up to $2,500 deposited directly into parents’ bank accounts so they control the spending for extra education expenses like books, electronics, dorm supplies and more. Parents also have the option to start paying in full right away, or to limit monthly payments while the student is in school, and to pick their own repayment terms from 5 to 12 years.
I love College Ave Loan’s planning tools like the Student Loan Calculator that help me determine what loan amount and term would be best for us. It really helps us make the best decision with regarding to financing a portion (or all) of our kids higher education.
For a limited time College Avenue and Experian are teaming up to offer a personalized credit education session to families that are preparing to send their children to college. The session offers an in-depth, one-on-one, 35-minute phone call with an Experian Credit Educator agent. During the session, parents will receive a copy of their Experian credit report and score and a personalized, step-by-step walk-through of the report, as well as examples of actions that may improve their credit score and insights for future credit management decisions. For more information about how to access the free credit education session, visit https://www.collegeavestudentloans.com/crediteducator.
If you have to get a loan to help pay for college, start with College Avenue Student Loans, they makes the student loan process easy, simple and clear so students can get on with what matters most: a bright future.
In State Schools
We have a rule in our house, you can go to any college you want but I’m only paying in state tuition. I’ll pay for my kids to attend one of Georgia’s amazing universities, but I’m only paying tuition and books, no housing fees (unless freshman year is required to be on campus). If they want to go out of state, it’s on them to secure the scholarships & grants to cover the difference between in-state and out of state tuition. It might be mean, but out of state tuition costs are sometimes more than quadruple in state tuition, with six kids to put through college, I have to put my foot down and make them work for the rest.
If you are sure that your child/children are going to go to college then a 529 plan is a great investment to make. A 529 plan is like a 401K for college. Each state has their own plan so rates and contribution limits may vary, but no matter what state you live in, you can still grow your 529 plan tax free and are free from paying taxes on it ever, when used to pay qualifying school expenses. You can even have money taken directly out of your paycheck and put into your 529, just like with a 401k. This is a great resource and ensures that you will have some money available to help pay for college expenses.
College can be an exciting and terrifying time, hopefully this information helps you realize that you can actually afford to send your children to college without going completely broke.
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Do you have any advice that I missed? Please share it in the comments below!
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.