With college costs skyrocketing, many parents feel as though their college savings plan is on a tread mill and losing ground. Don’t get discouraged. Every dollar you save and pay up front for tuition and expenses is $2 saved in student loan costs, so it’s no time to slow down your savings. One thing you can do to relieve a little bit of the pressure is to look ahead to the options you have for paying for college expenses.
When you are approaching the three-year mark before your child enters college it is time to put a college payment plan into place. Here are some key tactics to consider while you continue to save for college.
- Look into a payment plan. Check with the colleges you are considering to see if they have a monthly payment plan. This would allow you to maintain control of your funds and keep them earning interest. If you are paying a portion of costs from current cash flow it can obviously help with budgeting.
- Look into scholarships. There is a whole universe of scholarships available for students of all ranks. Some students get scholarships just because their last name is Zolof. Check scholarship databanks (www.collegeboard.com), in your current regions, the region where you grew up, through your employers, and ask around. Start looking when your kid is freshman in high school and keep looking.
- File for financial aid. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online at www.fasa.ed.gov. to see if you are eligible for Pell Grants or Stafford Loans. Apply early. Also, be sure that your college savings accounts are in your name and not your kid’s name.