The end of Summer is fast approaching and that means it will soon be time for all the college kids to go back to school. If you are helping to support your son or daughter in college, it’s important to start keeping an eye on your finances. Here are some steps to keep your budget on track while your child gets a higher education.
Whether you are planning to pay 100% of the college costs or just a portion, you should evaluate your finances. Using a calculator like the one at www.savingforcollege.com/college-savings-calculator will allow you to input your information and figure out expenses. When making calculations, you may wish to base a financial assessment on a portion of your income or savings. You may have other goals besides paying your student’s college costs, like retirement, that you should set money aside for.
Research Loans and Grants
Make sure to explore your child’s eligibility for financial aid like scholarships, grants, work-study and federal student loans to ease your burden. https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/resources is a good place to start. You may also consider cosigning for a private student loan. When you cosign, you take on liability for the loan if your child can’t pay it back. It’s much easier for your child to get aid if you cosign, but you take the risk.
Expect Your Kid to Help Pay for School
You may want to pay for your child’s higher education, but you should not feel obligated to do so. Help your kid own a piece of her own education by encouraging part-time employment during school. Even something small like babysitting or bagging groceries can help save a lot of money. The Federal Work-Study Program also helps college students with financial need to find part-time jobs.
Keep Travel Costs Low
Transportation to and from college can be expensive, especially if your student attends a school out of state. Look for student discounts and sign up for a frequent flier program to take advantage of the miles your student racks up. Certain credit cards also offer air miles based on use. Booking flights during off-peak hours can also save you money. If your student lives closer to home, consider alternative travel options to flying, like the bus or train. Encourage your child to carpool with friends as well.
Look for Little Ways to Save
There are several ways to save additional money while your child is in school. Consider forgoing an expensive summer vacation, eat out at restaurants less, and cut out activities that can add up quickly – like going out to the movies. Cutting back on extra expenses and investing the money into a fund for college expenses can help you save over time.
Stock Up on School Supplies During Holiday Sales
Your student will need many supplies for school. Computers or tablets are necessary items these days, but they are also expensive. Look to buy them for a lot less when holiday sales roll around. Get a good deal during classic discount days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.