PAYING FOR COLLEGE
A college education can open you up to new opportunities, and help you develop skills and interests that will inform the career path you choose. It might even help give you confidence for that first big interview!
A college is a place where you can develop larger personal and professional networks. But it’s also a 4-year commitment of your time, effort and money.
In an economy where many are struggling to make ends meet, sending a child to college can be an enormous drain on families. The cost of tuition, fees, and room and board for a four-year degree can range anywhere from around $17,000 a year at an in-state public university to around $38,000 at a private college.
As you go through college, you’ll have to make some choices about how you’ll pay for your education. The most common mechanisms for this are savings, scholarships, grants, and loans.
If you want to help your kids pay for college, it’s never too early or too late to start saving. If you’re planning on your child going to college, it’s a good idea to start saving as much money as you can, as early as you can, so it’s had some time to build before you need to spend it.
One of the best ways to do it is by starting a 529 plan. Every state offers some version of these plans, which are portfolios of mutual funds.
You contribute money into a tax-advantaged account and then get a big tax deduction for each dollar contributed. That will let you save more than usual since Uncle Sam won’t be taking away 40% of your savings – the normal rate for most investment accounts.
Scholarships are financial awards, awarded by a college, state, or national organization to deserving students. They can be offered to students who meet other criteria of the award, such as high GPA, financial need or ethnic background. Scholarships are individual awards given by schools, states, or organizations, which don’t take repayment for the award or have specific criteria for the recipient.
There are a few things to keep in mind when trying to get scholarship money.
- Keep at it – You won’t get every award you apply for, but if you keep applying chances are good that you will at least get some of them.
- Go local – Many communities have alumni organizations, community groups, or religious organizations that offer awards to qualifying students.
- Stay on Task – Searching for all the options takes some time, and completing the necessary paperwork does, as well. Speaking of time, paying careful attention to deadlines is critical. Having a great application doesn’t matter if you can’t submit it on time. Donors and organizations need time to determine how they will make their awards, and if yours is late, it won’t be considered.
- Finally, when you do send in applications, make sure that you ’ve gone over them carefully, that’s they’re fully complete and free of typos. If a group is considering offering you an award, they want to feel confident that you’ll make responsible use of it, and a sloppy application undermines that image.
A grant is a sum of money awarded to an individual, business or organization for a specific purpose. Grants can be targeted, meaning that they’re awarded to someone with a specific type of background, experience or area of expertise; or they can be open to anyone seeking funding. Like scholarships, grants are awards that don’t need to be paid back but there are a few differences between the two types of awards.
One of the most important steps in paying for college is completing a FAFSA, or Free Application for Financial Student Aid. Completing this form will help you figure out how much and what sorts of financial aid you qualify for, including not just grants, but also scholarships, work-study programs, and more.
Student loans might not be ideal, but they can be a great way to cover shortfalls in your financial aid package. And if you’re planning on going to college, it’s something worth considering. There are two types of student loans available: federal and private. Federal loans require a credit check, while private ones don’t — but that doesn’t mean they aren’t more stringent when it comes to selecting who qualifies for them.
Use the link below to apply for some fully-funded scholarships