Some fortunate parents have enough cash on hand to pay for their child’s college education in full. However, this is a rare occurrence. Most parents deal with many sleepless nights as they try to determine how to best pay for their child’s schooling.
Typically, college age kids don’t think too much about money. They know that college is expensive, but are not too concerned with how to pay for tuition, room and board, books, and other associated fees.
As a parent, it is your responsibility to educate your child on the financial impacts of attending college. Along with this, you should do your best to offer assistance to obtain as much financial aid as possible.
Here are three important steps to take:
1. Speak With the College Financial Aid Offices
As your child compares schools and works toward making a decision, be sure to speak with a representative of the financial aid office of each college he or she is considering. By doing so, you can learn more about the overall cost of attending the school, as well as the financial aid options that are available.
You should ask the same questions of each school. By doing so, you and your child are “comparing apples to apples” when it comes time to make a final decision.
2. Think Outside the Box
Believe it or not, some parents and students let the financial aid office do all the work for them. They receive their package in the mail and do whatever they are told. While it is essential to stay in close contact with the school and consider all options that are presented, there are additional steps you should take to increase the overall financial aid package.
Have you helped your child find and apply for third party scholarships and grants? There are many available. Organizations all over the country offer funds to students based on everything from racial status, to academic performance, to chosen degree paths.
3. Focus on Student Loans Last
Upon receiving a financial aid package, you may notice that the school always includes student loans to make up any difference between grants and scholarships and the total cost. There is nothing wrong with utilizing a student loan, if it is necessary.
However, before you and your child begin to search for the best type of student loan, you should exhaust every other option. For example, you may be willing to give your child a personal loan to help him or her avoid large interest payments in the future. You may discover that other loans are available as well – and they may offer better interest rates. Don’t jump the gun and accept student loans before you absolutely have to.
College kids often do not consider the financial impact of their education. As a parent, you need to educate them on everything from their financial aid options, to what their choices will mean in the future.
With this advice, you should be able to help your child obtain more financial aid. Anything you can do to assist is valuable, especially when considering the continually rising costs of college.