Fall Tips to Kick Start the Financial Road to College

(StatePoint) Fall kick starts the financial road to college for parents of high school seniors. But if you’re like the majority of parents, you both value the importance of a college degree, while harboring anxiety about the price tag.  

In a recent College Ave Student Loans parent survey conducted by Barnes & Noble Insights, 85% of parents agree that earning a degree is more important than ever. At the same time, most parents surveyed agree that the cost of college is more of a financial burden than in previous years, that the cost is surprisingly high, and find paying to be stressful.

As you begin making your financial plans, consider these tips:

• Build a smart college list: Encourage your child to apply to a mix of private and public schools as sometimes merit aid from private universities can make costs comparable to public options. By applying to a variety of schools, you can compare financial aid award packages and identify a school that’s not only a good academic and social fit, but a good financial fit as well.

• Apply for financial aid: Create a spreadsheet listing financial aid deadlines and requirements, which vary by school and state. You can check with your school’s financial aid office to learn what paperwork is needed.

One date to circle in your calendar is October 1. This marks the day you can begin filing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Complete the FAFSA this fall and every year your child attends college. Doing so is the key to unlocking scholarships, grants, work-study and federal student loans. This is also the date you can begin filing the CSS Profile, an online application that nearly 400 colleges, universities, professional schools, and scholarship programs use to award more than $9 billion in financial aid annually.

• Look for scholarships: Have your college-bound student seek out and apply for reputable scholarships. Be sure to read the fine print to understand the terms. One easy one to apply for is the College Ave Student Loans $1,000 monthly scholarship sweepstakes.

• Review your finances: The overwhelming majority of parents (97%) plan to help pay for their child’s college education, according to the College Ave survey. Of those, 62% plan to draw from their income and savings to do so. Make time this fall to review your financial resources to determine how much you can contribute without sacrificing your retirement goals. You may need to get creative. For example, 1 out of 10 parents surveyed find extra income from a side hustle.

• Prep your student: Many students learn their first money management lessons in college. Give your child the financial know-how needed to hit the ground running. Discuss how to create and stick to a budget, how to build an emergency savings account, and how to avoid peer pressure when it comes to spending. For example, just because a friend is dining out or traveling frequently, doesn’t mean your child has to do the same. Also, discuss how they can contribute to their education costs. Creating financial goals now will help set your child up for financial success.

• Get savvy: As you navigate the financial road to college, stay savvy by referencing the free tips, resources, guides and financial expert advice available at collegeavestudentloans.com/blog.

College costs can surprise many families. Don’t get caught off guard. To get financially prepared, use the year ahead to explore all your financing options and formulate a plan.

Photo Credit: (c) monkeybusinessimages / iStock via Getty Images Plus

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