Posted on 11/24/2015
Scholarships are the best way to go because you never have to repay the money. Check local organizations in your community about scholarships. For some initial information, check out the website of Tutelage at www.asktutelage.com to get access to their scholarships information and financial aid guidance portal.
Grants are great because they don't have to be repaid either. You can learn about grant possibilities here. Also consider whether these two new grants might be appropriate: the Academic Competitiveness Grant, which offers up to $1,300 for students who have completed a rigorous high school program; and the National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent, or SMART, grant, which offers up to $4,000 for undergraduates majoring in physical, life or computer sciences, math, technology, engineering or a foreign language "determined critical to national security."
If you've begun navigating the financial-aid landscape, you know about the need to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, in order to secure federal grants and different forms of state aid. Students are encouraged to complete this form as soon after January. 1st as possible for the upcoming academic year. Before filling out the application, gather the important information such as, current and previous tax returns, bank statements, records of untaxed income and , current mortgage information.
If student loans are unavoidable, opt for subsidized loans when you can. The federal government pays the interest on such loans while you're in school and during the grace period before repayment begins. For details, turn to the U.S. Department of Education's Federal Student Aid Information Center, Nellie Mae and SallieMae.
Sure, the country's most elite private schools have an almost irresistible appeal, but so many other options exist that will allow you to spend so much less. Remember all those high-caliber private schools out there that don't have the name recognition of Harvard but still need to fill their classrooms. Many of them offer "tuition discounts" (i.e., financial aid). And of course, you could save a bundle by choosing a public university in your state - or, better yet, by opting for a community college for the first two years of that four-year degree.
Here's a little bit more food for thought on this subject. The idea behind this tip isn't to plunge your child into financial ruin just as he or she is trying to get started in life. Instead, the objective is to have your child feel invested in the college experience and understand its true costs. He or she can help pay for dorm furnishings, help fill out financial aid applications, or hold down a job in the summer months or for 10 to 15 hours a week during the academic year. Your child also could agree to pay for the final two years of school if you pick up the tab for the first two years, even if this involves taking responsibility for student loans during that period.
If you're a single filer with an income of less than $55,000 a year or a couple with an annual income of less than $110,000, you could qualify for a Hope credit and a Lifetime Learning credit to help defray college costs.
If you make too much to qualify for a tax credit, there are still steps you can take. Contact one of the Financial Planners on how you can gift assets, shift income and see other strategies that could give you valuable tax benefits to pay for college cost much easier.
Remember: Your kids can always borrow for college, but you can't borrow for your retirement. It may feel natural for you to give everything you possibly can to your children - but they'll ultimately thank you if you take care of yourself in this department.