Wednesday, October 27, 2010

College Planning

Ebonee Bright
Family Investment Center

With college expenses skyrocketing and a decrease in resources available for financial aid, college costs are becoming more and more overwhelming for parents. College costs aren’t just tuition, books, and room & board anymore. There are hidden fees like school brand clothing, parking passes, Greek fees, formal events, health expenditures, and even parking fines.

It’s not too late to start planning for your child’s further education:

Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Don’t wait until your taxes are complete to fill out the FAFSA, waiting will only result in an insufficient aid package or no financial aid at all. Even if you think your family won’t qualify to receive benefits there are other benefits from filling out the FAFSA. It is beneficial for borrowing low interest student loans and is often required for merit based grants and scholarships. Colleges also use the information to offer need-based work study programs and grants.

Discuss money management with your college student. It’s no secret that college students are notoriously bad at managing personal finances. Sharing information about tuition costs, book costs, and other costs with students will help them gain an understanding about the importance of financial planning. It is important that they understand the consequences for overspending and take responsibility for their finances.

Start a 529 College Savings Plan. The purpose of a 529 College Savings Plan is to fund future college costs. Having a savings plan does not exempt families from receiving financial aid. Prior to July 1, 2006 a 529 College Savings Plan was treated as a resource which reduced financial aid. Since then the 529 Savings Plan has been considered a parental asset and doesn’t influence financial aid eligibility for the student.

Gain information from trusted resources. Using financial planners can be beneficial to families who want to plan for college saving. Choosing a financial planner can determine your college funding needs and tailor a plan to help you
meet them.

1 comment:

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