As your high school student begins planning for college, there are many actions you and your child can take to prepare. We have gathered information in the steps below to help with that planning and preparation.
Step One: Create a Savings Plan
Your greatest asset is time. The sooner you start saving for your children’s college education, the more time you will have for your savings to grow. Start by figuring out how much your children’s education will cost with the College Cost Projector. Use the Savings Plan Designer to determine how much you need to save on a regular basis to reach your savings goals. Consider Section 529 College Savings Plans and Prepaid Tuition Plans and Coverdell Education Savings Accounts as possible savings vehicles. Advertisement
Step Two: College Approaches
Determine how much aid your child will need and how much your family will be expected to contribute with the Financial Aid Estimation Calculator. Maximize your eligibility for financial aid with tips like reducing your savings account by paying off credit card debt. Encourage your child to search for Scholarships — it takes only a few minutes and it’s free. Your child won’t be able to pay for college entirely on his or her own. Low cost Parent Loans provide education financing that can help you manage your cash flow. Private Loans can provide additional money.
Step Three: Apply for Financial Aid
Apply for financial aid every year, even if you think you won’t get any. More than two-thirds of families qualify for financial aid. Apply by submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It is best to review your finances with your child. But if you want to keep the information private, rest assured that the school will not reveal the information you submit on the FAFSA to your child (or any other third party) without your permission. Read Finaid’s Guide to Negotiation and Professional Judgment The Education Tax Credits can help you defray college costs through tax deductions, tax credits and exclusions from taxable income. Finaid’s Guide to Financial Aid Award Letters gives a few tips on decoding your financial aid package and tools for comparing award letters.
Step Four: Still Have Questions?
There is a lot of terminology utilized with the financial aid process. We have a section that outlines the terms and acronyms. Go to our Answering Your Questions section for more information. If you can’t find an answer there, you can send your questions to our Ask the Aid Advisor team. This team of financial aid professionals can address your questions directly and provide you direction for your next steps. Go to Finaid Contacts for the details. If your child has just been admitted to college and you haven’t done any advance planning, see our important sections on Loans, Scholarships and Other Types of Aid.