If you have children, you’ve probably already thought about how to pay for their college expenses. It’s a safe bet you’ve also been bombarded with advice from well-meaning relatives, neighbors, and co-workers. Financial advisors who specialize in creative methods of paying for higher education recommend several approaches, depending on your current financial situation.
In addition to starting college funds and dipping into savings or retirement accounts, some parents decide to hunt for scholarships and grants. There’s also the work-study option, the military, and public service stipends. In fact, if you have a strong enough desire to provide for your child’s college costs, you’ll find a way. Here are the most commonly suggested methods people hear when they ask financial experts for advice.
Start a College Fund on Day One
People often laugh when childless couples say they already have college funds for future offspring. In fact, there’s no smarter way for responsible parents to save for a child’s education. The mathematical power of interest means that early savers won’t have to panic when little Jimmy or Sally is ready to graduate from high school. By opening a fund when children are born, or before if possible, you’ll be on the fast track to fully pay for your kids’ higher education.
Get Student Loans to Cover What You Can’t
After you’ve exhausted all the free ways to find funding for school, and have used up whatever amount you specifically saved for the purpose, opt for a traditional student loan to cover the rest. They come with very reasonable interest rates, generous repayment periods, and can be easy to get from Earnest.com. Today, many parents who are assisting their children with paying for college, are doing so by taking out a loan themselves.
Explore Scholarships, Grants, and Work-Study Programs
There’s plenty of cash available if you know where to look. Do some online research and find work-study programs at the colleges your child is likely to attend, scholarships in particular areas of study, and grants that come with no strings attached. The beauty of grants is that they need not be repaid. Work-study arrangements are a good way to get some job experience while attending school, and scholarships are another no need to repay the source of funds.
Don’t Forget the Military Option
If your child is thinking about joining one of the branches of the military, you’re one of the lucky ones. All branches offer generous tuition programs for active and recently discharged members. Veterans of any age have access to low-interest loans and sometimes fully reimbursed tuition at certain institutions. To date, nearly 100 million citizens have received a significant amount of their education expenses in the form of military subsidies.
Check Out Public Service Programs
Numerous public service jobs, like teaching and social work, offer tuition reimbursement plans for anyone who spends a specific number of years in the profession. In many cases, just five years on the job can get you large discounts on higher education expenses. In fact, students who intend to become social workers can often get up to 50 percent off their total bill at certain colleges.