Encourage your student to think about their future financial self
It’s that time of year that kids pack the U-Haul and head to college. (I’ll be facing that in two years – hard to believe). They may feel excited about a brand-new semester. Seeing the cost of their college experience, though, can be frightening. What can our college students do to ease the price tag?
According to the College Board, in-state tuition at a public university now averages $9,970, and $34,740 for a private college. Some private colleges come in at over $75,000 a year! (And yes, private college might not be worth that extra money.)
Don’t freak out yet! Here are a few ideas for your student to increase their income, boost their financial aid and cut expenses.
Reduce Student Loans
Borrowing $2,500 less in student loans each year equates to $10,000 over four years. If you borrowed that money from federal government-backed Stafford loans at, say, a fixed 6.8% interest, you pay $115 a month for the next 10 years. That $10,000 ends up costing you $13,812 – a big burden even with repayment plans.
Avoid taking out more student loans than you need, even if you’re eligible. Make sure you take out the subsidized loans before the un-subsidized loans. Only use private student loans as a last resort.
The class of 2018 graduated with the most student debt ever – an average of $38,390 according to the Wall Street Journal. So how can you reduce the need for student loans?
Yes, that means extra work between courses, research papers and case studies. The rewards, though, are well worth the effort.
Your child doesn’t need a full-time job along with a full course load. They can look into part-time jobs that offer flexible schedules so they rack up paid hours around classes. If working for someone else doesn’t appeal to them, they can create their own work with a side job.
Your child will earn cash to help with college expenses. They’ll also earn valuable experience to put them ahead of the pack when starting a career after graduation.
Reapply for Scholarships and Grants
If you were denied before, try again. A lot can change in a semester.
If your child brought up their grades, for instance, they might now qualify for tuition help that they applied for before but missed. Check with your department chair for scholarships for upperclassman in your child’s major.
Did your child lose their scholarship? They should focus on studies to boost grade point average again.
You only live once. Should your child buy a car? Get an expensive nice apartment a few miles from campus? Take a vacation between semesters?
Teach your child to live within their means and use student loans only for college expenses. Frugal living means seeking inexpensive alternatives. Instead of trying to live alone in a two-bedroom apartment off-campus, for example, encourage roommates (or even live at home).
Use School Facilities and Discounts
Most colleges have great amenities that students often ignore. Many services they need may be a 10-minute walk from their living space – and they already pay for these services with tuition.
If there’s a gym on campus, why pay for a membership elsewhere? The campus information technology department may offer cheap repairs for broken laptops. Not feeling so great? Head to the school health-care center.
Don’t forget that a college ID can score discounts to events both on and off campus: plays, museums, movies and even train passes.
Four courses (12 credit hours) per semester won’t get your student walking across that stage, diploma in hand, in four years. And the more semesters they stick around, the more everyone pays: even with fixed tuition, per-semester fees often rise.
Don’t forget about opportunity costs, either. The longer your child stays in school, the longer before they start their career and secure a salary. This delays future earnings potential.
Encourage your child to do what they need to do to graduate in four years. This includes having them stop changing majors – and if possible take summer classes. They can also use advanced placement credits from high school to finish in three years.
It takes a lot for any college student to hold a side job or get through school as fast as possible. But if your student does the hard work now, their future financial self will thank you for the lack of debt.