The following is a guest post by Emily Thomas, who writes on the topic of online college degrees.
Your child’s education is perhaps one of the most valuable assets one human being could give to another, as it is the one thing that will have definite on-going returns throughout your child’s life, well into adulthood.
Therefore, money spent on education is, for the most part, money well spent. But if one thing is true, a quality education, especially these days, is expensive. So in order to invest wisely, you must carefully consider how to allocate your resources, so that you can give your kid the education she deserves without you yourself going broke. The following are a few suggestions on preparing for the inevitable college funds-sucker.
1. If your kid is about to apply to college, do your financial research FIRST.
More than anything, a higher education is what you’ll have to shell out the most for. While tuition rates have been skyrocketing, the value of a college degree is incontestable, and that’s not just in the realm of future employment success. Studies have proven that more educated people tend to be happier.
Before you begin the college search, make sure that you understand the costs. If your child is very gung-ho about attending a top university and has the grades and test scores to back it up, then make sure that you learn about all the costs involved, since elite, private universities, more so than public ones, often have expenditures that people don’t normally account for until after they enroll.
2. Fill out the FAFSA and CSS/PROFILE while in the process of applying to schools.
The FAFSA and CSS/PROFILE are two common financial aid eligibility forms that most universities require if you are in need of financial aid from the government and/or the institution. Even if you think you earn too much to qualify, fill them out anyway. You never know. The earlier you get these forms in, the better your chances of getting all the financial aid you require. Don’t wait until after your child is accepted. For more financial aid form tips, click here.
3. After acceptance, make a very specific but realistic budget for your child. And most importantly, stick to it.
Once you’ve calculated tuition and housing costs, which are usually pretty clear cut once your child receives her financial aid package in the mail, make a reasonable budget for personal costs. If your child has a meal plan which is more than likely included in housing costs, understand that sometimes the student cafeteria may be closed (once a week on Saturday, for example, or during short holidays when your kid may not come home). For a general idea of the different personal costs often associated with college, and what you can expect to pay, click here.
4. Don’t budge on additional requests for money, if you know you’ve given your child enough to have a fulfilling academic and social life.
One thing that I noticed while attending college is the inordinate levels at which parents spoil their kids. Several of my friends had daddy’s credit card, and asking money from the more hesitant parents became a game, a skill that one had to hone.
My parents, on the other hand, were very specific about my allowance, and I was usually able to make do. If I ran out (which was usually due to social expenses), then I learned different ways to make extra cash, like taking on a very part-time student job, or selling different things on eBay.
If you’re firm with your kid’s allowance, then your child will teach herself how to become a better saver and entrepreneur, which are lessons that everyone should learn, at some point or another, on their own. Bottom line, learn to say no.
Note: This guest post is contributed by Emily Thomas, who writes on the topics of online college degrees. She welcomes your questions and comments at her email Id: email@example.com.
#5 – start putting away money as soon as your kid is born. We did and now the 10 year old has over $11,000 and the 7 year old has about $9000. And we just do $50 a month per kid. It ocmes out automatically so we don't even think about it.
My husband went to Bemidji State (where we live) and I went to Hamline (and am still paying off student loans). Funny… we talk a lot about BSU but not about Hamline (which is a great school and I love my education I received there but how can anyone afford it?).
Twin XL says
As a senior in college, I definitely recommend setting a budget for your student. I really wish I would have done so. Fast food just kills you.
College students can see great benefits from budgeting. Creating a budget allows students to save. From personal experience, I found that without a budget, small purchases get out of control. $5 here, $10 there and two weeks later, all my money for the month is gone.
Word of advice, buy groceries! Don't eat out all of the time, cooking at home can be cheap and healthy.
Parents and students working together to create the budget is important. Students need to understand the expenses and buy into budgeting. The process of creating a budget together will also give students and parents an opportunity to talk about expectations and priorities for college. It's not always an easy process, but it's very important for success.
Great post and great suggestions! Thanks!