College costs are very difficult for many families to afford. A typical student will pay for college from a combination of the following:
- Family support
- Federal financial aid
- Private loans
- Student financing
Scholarships take on a variety of forms. Some states have scholarships for students who meet certain academic standards. Universities also offer scholarships for students of higher academic standing. Other scholarships come from private sources and have criteria specified by the donor. In some cases scholarships are only available to students who have established an academic record at the university. Unfortunately most scholarships are based upon academic standing, and few are available to students who are not at the top of their class. See the topic: Getting a Scholarship for guidance on what it takes to get a scholarship.
Most students have some form of family support. In some cases, parents have been contributing to a college savings account. In other cases, grandparents are a major contributor. All too often family support is very limited.
You may qualify for federal financial aid if your family’s contribution to your education is limited. There are three sources of federal aid:
- Grants – These are funds that do not need to be repaid
- Work Study – You are given the opportunity to work while you attend college
- Federal Loans – funds that are provided to you that you must repay when you graduate
There are many qualifications for these funds your student’s college will need to help.
Private loans are another source of funds. In this case parents take out a loan from a local bank. The challenge to this source of funds is the interest rate you will be charged.
Some students will finance a major share of their college expenses through their own earnings from jobs. Unfortunately these jobs can take away from time needed for classes.
No matter the choice of funds used to pay for college, there are some things that can make college experience more affordable.
1. Select a college that won’t put your student into debt into their middle age. The earning potential in many majors is as good if not better from lower cost colleges.
2. Stress the importance of graduating in eight semesters. Extra semesters can be very costly in college costs and in lost earning.
3. Ask your student to work with the financial aid office. There are very likely financial support packages you and your student will not know.
4. Place a cap on what you are willing to borrow for your student or what you co-sign for what your student borrows. If makes no sense for students to be in debt for half of their adult lives to pay for college.
5. Consider options for paying for college and don’t involve debt. There include:
- Alternating work and school
- Taking advantage of military assistance programs for members of the armed services
- Changing schools to a less expensive one
6. Encourage your student to seek out a position as a teaching assistant or research assistant.
7. Encourage your student to become a resident assistant in the dorms. Generally this will lead to free room and board and a small stipend.
8. Encourage your student to work with career service office to find an internship or a campus based job. There are a number of good opportunities, but students need to seek them out.
Every student who wants to get a college degree can find the finances to pay for it, but this is something students need to put in the effort to get results..