We wish planning for college was all about fun trips to IKEA and college campus visits. Applying to college can be a stressful process for a family, especially as those dollar signs start to accumulate. While trying to manage the financial aspects of college planning, keep the following in mind:
Online Education Opportunities
As online accredited colleges and universities become more prevalent, an online education becomes more credible and respected by employers. Students thrive and excel in diverse learning environments, whether it’s in classrooms on a university campus or through the Web and software Blackboard. President of Ivy Tech Community College Tom Snyder believes “that the future of higher education lies with online learning.” And by enrolling in online college courses, students can spend more time committing to working and family obligations. Students can learn at their own pace, and online institutions are also often less expensive. The most noted online colleges for their financial accessibility include Western Governors, Thomas Edison State College and Walden University.
College doesn’t come cheap—among more than 4,400 U.S. colleges, tuition reaches upwards of $60,000 per year. CNN Money reports that during the 2011-2012 academic year, a full-time student will pay on average $15,000 (including tuition, fees, room and board, books and additional expenses) to attend an in-state public university.
Lessen the monetary stress of college by learning about various forms of student aid and completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form and/or CSS Profile for eligibility. A CSS Profile is for a “college’s own institutional aid dollars,” explains Forbes.com.
Financial information from aid forms FAFSA and the CSS Profile are calculated. And the output is the expected family contribution (EFC) toward college and the minimum dollar amount that the student’s expected to pay. In other words, EFC is used to determine a student’s qualification for financial aid. The assessment includes family assets, income, size and number of college-enrolled dependent children.
While researching student loans and college grants, you’ll probably want to learn about all the available types of loans. Forbes spotlights education-funding loans that families can borrow from to pay for college. Subsidized Stafford and Perkins loans are the best. The Unsubsidized Stafford loan follows and then private student loans. Federal Stafford loans are most commonly used to pay for college, and the federal government pays the interest. An Unsubsidized Stafford loan requires that the student pay the loan interest during college. Interest payments can be postponed until after leaving college or graduation. The Perkins loan is designated for students with significant financial need. Lastly, a student can receive a private student loan through a bank or private lender. These loans typically require a cosigner and interest rates vary between three and 12 percent.
Scholarships can also help mitigate the sobering costs of college. The high school counselor, local alumni associations and community organizations are top resources for scholarship opportunities and applications. Also, ask your employer if they offer college scholarships. USA Today recommends the following 2013 scholarships that have late summer deadlines, including Make Me Laugh Scholarship, Vista Health Solutions, Flavor of the Month Scholarship, and “No Essay” Scholarship.
With thorough research and time, you can help your student acquire monetary assistance for college. Every little bit helps.