Parents and guardians have to think carefully about how they will fund a child's college experience.
Massive tuition increases have set the stage for this kind of financial pressure. It's simply a lot more expensive to go to college than it used to be.
Here are some of the top tips for household planners who are wanting to send a kid to college, without ending up with empty pockets. (Some of these can be combined with other strategies later, like medical school student loan refinancing.
Explore FAFSA Funding and Grant Opportunities
If you are trying to support a child's education in the most affordable way possible, the first place to start is with the federal FAFSA program.
This government program was set up to provide financial assistance to families who have promising young learners, but not as much capital to send their children to school.
Here it makes sense to really drill down into the nuts and bolts of how FAFSA calculates financial assistance. Know your household income and other key numbers, to support a claim for help from the government in order to get your child enrolled without spending an arm and a leg.
There are also grants that your young learner can apply for, in order to offset some of their college costs. Then later they can also pursue subject-specific solutions, for example, medical school student loan refinancing or otherwise micromanage any personal loans they have taken out.
Paint a Full Picture
Good extracurriculars, volunteer history and other extras are good for a college application, but they can also be good for your student’s college experience in another way – by lowering costs.
This comes in the form of a scholarship, which may be awarded according to aptitude. So if your student has a better GPA, better testing scores, better extracurriculars and more, he or she could qualify for a range of scholarship options. Many of these scholarships are for specific aptitude in a particular type of academics or sports.
Some scholarships also work based on need or eligibility, so be sure to look for all of your options to save money on a college education, in addition to a plan for student loan refinancing or optimizing college-related personal loans.
Consider Federal and Private Student Loans
Your next stop on the college funding line can be the range of federal and private student loan programs that will help your child to fund education without siphoning all of that money from your household budget.
College loans are now standard for many students. They allow the students to learn first, get the degree and get appropriate jobs, in order to start to pay off the loan after graduation.
Take a look at programs like the Federal Perkins student loan program that may have a lower interest rate and better repayment terms than a range of private loans.
If you do end up taking out private loans or similar personal loans for college, make sure you get the best APY and lowest interest rates possible. With relatively low interest rates these days, it should be possible to get loans that don't require as much interest repayment over time. That will come in handy with medical school student loan refinancing or other proactive ways to manage the college bill later.
Look Into the Future
As you're getting these loans, think about what the financial picture will look like after graduation.
Many of these loans have deferment options in case your student gets behind in payments.
You can also look at things like medical school student loan refinancing, where a plan to refinance can decrease the monthly amount that your graduated student must spend as he or she works off the student loans in question.
Find Affordable Tuition
Where do you find affordable tuition?
It's a good question, and it's one that a lot of families are asking.
One of the first avenues of inquiry is a community college, where students can learn at a fraction of the cost of most private universities.
Some even pursue a deliberate strategy to earn most of their credits at the community college, then transfer to a more expensive school later and bring their existing credits with them.
This is often a workable strategy. Households can also look at their status as in-state residents in order to get specialized lower in-state tuition rates at state schools.
All of this will help you to get a handle on how to fund your child's education in a time when it's one of the biggest costs you'll ever take on. Having a college fund handy is a big help, but these aforementioned tips (and efficient personal loans) will also lower the amount of financial pressure you feel as your child heads off for their journey in higher education.