College Planning, Financial Aid

Paying for College: What You Need to Know About Making College More Affordable

One of the biggest challenges for a parent is figuring out how to afford college. Why is college so expensive? In today’s market, a good college may cost $50,000 a year or more! If your child is in high school, or even junior high school, you are probably already asking yourself questions like “how can I help my child pay for college?” and “how much money should be saved for my child’s college fund?” If you’ve been wondering how to make college more affordable, you’re not alone. Here are some of the best ways to pay for college:

1. Financial Aid

The first and most important way to make college affordable is through financial aid. Most people will have to take out loans to pay for a child’s college education, but not only may these loans not be enough, it stands to reason that the more loans you take out, the more debt you or your child will be saddled with — debt that could follow you for decades.

Fortunately, you have many financial aid options. Completing the FAFSA application will help you determine which grants and government-sponsored loans your child is eligible to receive. Grants, unlike loans, don’t require repayment, so you should pursue these as aggressively as possible.

Scholarships – based on a student’s merit – are another way of funding a college education and, like grants, do not require repayment. However, scholarships can alter the amount of need-based financial aid your child is eligible to receive and most scholarships must be reported to the college’s financial aid department.

It’s a good idea to research financial aid opportunities at every school your child intends to apply to.

2. Start Early

If your child can take AP and other college credit courses in high school, they may be eligible to take fewer college credits. Passing an AP test with a score of 4 or 5 generally qualifies that student for college credit; that means they won’t have to pay to take the course while in college. Additionally, your children may even be able to find courses they can take online for college credit at costs much lower than tuition credit costs. These are courses they can even take while attending college – during summer break, for example – which will help reduce overall tuition costs.

3. Digital Textbooks

Textbooks can be a significant college expense. Rather than hard-copy books, have your child look for digital subscription services and other ways to access textbooks online. If that’s not an option, have your child try to rent textbooks or sell back books once the course is completed.

4. Find the Right School

Choosing the right college in the first place is a big part of the equation. You want your child to go to the college that offers their intended field of study, has the right campus atmosphere for their personality and offers the outside activities they’re interested in pursuing. The better the college match, the better chance that they will be happy and complete their degree on time, which means lower costs for all of you.

5. Get Help

College funding planning and financial aid applications are complicated so get as much guidance as you can! You can start by signing up for a free Ecliptic Financial Advisors college funding strategies workshop, where you’ll learn many great funding secrets to help you navigate the confusion.  Find your workshop today!