It's important to prepare your student for college as early as possible. This way, they can start considering colleges, comparing costs, saving money, applying for grants, etc. Going to college might be expensive, but it's also an investment in your student's future because it opens up various professional avenues. It can also help in your student's personal growth and give them the tools necessary to deal with life issues. Here are some things to consider when getting your student financially prepared for college.
Saving to Be Financially Prepared for College
If you're getting a head start on your teen's future, then you can think about saving up some money for college. Start a college savings account in your teen's name. They can add to it from any summer or after-school jobs that they have. You can also add money to this account or to your own savings account for your teen's college expenses.
If you or your teen get any larger-than-normal sums of money, such as a tax refund or a gift from a godparent, then consider putting this money into the college savings account right away rather than keeping it in a checking account where you or your teen might end up spending it.
Choosing a College
There are many colleges that your student can choose from. Some are on the more expensive side and some are cheaper. In fact, your student's choice of college can be the most important factor which determines whether they are financially prepared for college. It can also lead to the student being in debt for many years after college or paying off their loans as soon as possible.
So make sure that you sit down with your student and look at all their options—from cheaper state schools to more expensive private schools. Choosing a school which is closer to home is also an option; this way, the student can live at home and save on living expenses.
It's important to document exactly how much money the student's parents make to qualify for financial aid. As an undergraduate, the student will be considered for need-based financial aid. So if the student's financial aid documents show that the student's parents make only a moderate amount of money and have a number of dependents, then the student will qualify for more financial aid.
If the student's financial aid package and his/her savings don't cover the cost of college, they can also opt for a student loan. They can apply for this loan through the college itself to be financially prepared for college. There are many government-subsidized loans with a low rate of interest which the student will not have to repay while they are still in college. If the student opts to go to graduate school, then loan repayment can be deferred until they finish that course as well.
Once they've finished their studies, they can get a job and start loan repayment. If their income is not very high, the loan repayment amount can be adjusted based on how much they make.
Getting a campus job can also help the student with their college finances. In fact, there are many jobs which the student can apply for as an official staff member. These are not necessarily full-time jobs; some of them can be part-time as well.
Help Your Student Become Financially Prepared for College
Additionally, there are many part-time campus jobs, a list of which will probably be available at the student employment office. Some may not be very well-paying while others will pay a little more. Either way, the student can expect to at least be able to cover some of their living expenses through a campus job.