If you have kids in high school, you’re starting to feel the pressure to plan for college. This is me and her husband working on it for our daughter. Believe me, the process can be daunting.
An issue that plagues many parents is cost. How do I pay? I encourage parents to put money in their state while their children are young. 529 savings plan If you are considering an out-of-state college. Our state, Maryland, offers a state tax credit, so I encourage you to research other states to see if yours offers a similar program. If parents want to lock in in-state tuition, the prepaid college option is recommended.
As financial planners, we need to help parents plan for retirement while helping them manage their college savings and funds wisely. I think this way.
Consider your options
Once in high school, it’s imperative that parents discuss college plans with their children. Her husband and I have been doing so with her daughter for some time. I believe we should talk to her about money and the implications of her decisions. It’s important to discuss your budget. For example, how much can your household afford? Explain to your children how much you plan to donate annually for their college education.
Some parents I meet feel that family values oblige them to fully fund their children’s college education, so they don’t want to talk about money with their children. However, the parameters may need to be developed due to competing financial goals of the family.
If your family has set a financial limit for college spending, especially if you know what subjects your child wants to major in, it’s a good idea to start evaluating scholarships for parents.
There are also scholarships available from Year 8 onwards. Freshman year of high school is a good time to visit her website at the university to see information about those institutions. Expected Family Contribution Calculator. This will help your family estimate the expected costs of enrolling in a college your child might be interested in.
One of the most powerful things I’ve gotten from social media is access to information and research. Want to learn more about the college admissions process? Join our Facebook group to learn from other parents who have experienced the path you’re on. You can get information about a specific university, Fafsa, Financial Aid, Achievement Awards, School Culture. We encourage you to listen to financial aid presentations offered by your local college for tips and insights that can be used regardless of which college your child attends.
Many high school students participate in dual enrollment with community colleges, partly to save money. But according to a recent Associated Press, article, Students may end up paying extra to extend their studies, as not all community college credits may be transferred. The frustration this caused resulted in the student dropping out of college before completing her four-year degree.
Prepare your students and yourself
This process of minimizing college costs can be stressful. One parent told me it was like having a second job. That’s why some parents pay to hire college consultants. The average cost can range from $850 to over $10,000.
Some parents may consider hiring a college consultant to ease the pressure of the college admissions process. However, if you hire a consultant, be clear about what you want and state your expectations. There are services to help you find colleges, write essays, submit applications, and keep students organized and focused. Some help in getting scholarships with merit. An increasing number of universities are making exams voluntary. However, taking the SAT or ACT and getting a good score can open the door to merit scholarships.
High school freshmen need to know about career guidance counselors and the services they offer. Relationships with teachers are also important, especially with teachers that students like and who give recommendations from the university.
Preparing for college is different than when I was in high school over 30 years ago. At the time, I was the only one involved in the admission process. Today, it has become cumbersome, confusing, and downright frustrating, if not overwhelming. I’m learning that it’s okay not to know, it’s okay to ask questions and ask for help. We always tell our clients this. It’s okay to take our own advice.