While this is a guest post, it’s also information I’m starting to gather, because both my boys want to go to college, and I assume Kaitlyn will too some day. How are we going to pay for it? Student loans, you betcha.
Simply having a college degree is becoming more necessary for those wishing to obtain a decent job in their 20s. While the college education no longer promises a kid the high end job they had always hoped for, it is more likely to get them a job, especially in this rough job market. However, college educations are expensive, and not always easy for everyone to afford both during and after college.
But getting your kid a college education doesn’t mean having to take out thousands of dollars in student loans. There are several ways you can get your kids through college without having to sacrifice your retirement or taking on massive debt yourself including:
Fill Out the FAFSA
One of the easiest ways to receive money for school is by filling out the FAFSA. There are hundreds of thousands of dollars the federal government has to give out each year, and thousands of students miss out on the opportunity to receive that free money by not filling out the FAFSA. Even if you believe that you and your husband make too much money for your child to qualify, you should still fill it out as you may be surprised to find out that your child is actually eligible for several grants.
While scholarships seem like a no-brainer to save money, thousands of students don’t apply for them each year just like the FAFSA. There are several sites such as Fastweb.com and Scholarships.com that provide thousands of dollars in scholarships, and applicants can become eligible for them by simply writing a 500 word essay or submitting their resume. No sports career or 4.0 grade point average needed.
Get a Part-Time Job
Working never killed anyone, and while working 20 hours a week won’t foot your child’s college tuition bill, it can greatly reduce their costs. Instead of spending their extra time hitting up parties, consider having your kid put in a few hours of honest work. Not only will it help them pay down their tuition, but it will also give them some extra spending money to enjoy so they aren’t maxing out their credit cards low interest. Many universities even offer work study programs to help reduce the cost of tuition while paying students above average wages.
The cost of in-state tuition compared to that of out-of-state tuition varies greatly. On average in-state tuition costs a about 50 to 75 percent less than out-of-state tuition, so if your child has the choice between one state school or another, see if they won’t choose the one located within your state. It will cost less, and make affording tuition more possible. The only time you should really choose allowing your child to go out of state is when they have been accepted in to an Ivy League school where attendance will pay for itself in the long run.
Special State Programs
Several states have specific programs that have been designed to help students get through college on a smaller budget. Missouri, for instance, has the A+ Program which allows students to receive two free years of education through a community college in exchange for tutoring and good grades. Other states such as Texas also offer similar plans. See if your state offers programs such as these for your child.
College may be expensive, but it doesn’t need to leave you with tens of thousands of dollars in debt upon your child’s graduation. Instead of agreeing to $25,000 or more in students loans, actually create a budget and figure out a way to get your child through college debt free. Not only will this keep you from having to worry about outrageous student loan bills, but it will give you and your child the financial freedom needed to be prosperous upon graduation.
Big thanks to Alex S. for contributing this post!