It is no secret that college is expensive. And unfortunately, there is no reason to expect that higher education will become more affordable in the future. In fact, the costs of attending college are steadily increasing. However, that does not mean that you have to sacrifice your lifestyle or your financial future in order to pay for the education of your children. There are a variety of strategies that can be utilized to lessen the financial hit you take—ranging from tax strategies to locating additional financial aid. Below we are going to cover some of these strategies. Please feel free to contact us for further information:
1) Fill out your FAFSA early. We recommend that families fill out their FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) as soon as they possibly can, in order to qualify for the maximum amount of aid available. However, it is critical that you fill this form out properly—a mistake could cost you thousands of dollars in financial aid.
2) Pursue scholarships from all sources. Most students and families make the mistake of only seeking scholarships from the school they are attending. But there are thousands of scholarships available elsewhere, for a wide variety of causes. Examples include scholarships for a student who has overcome a learning disability, is seeking a degree in education or social service, or comes from a minority background. The financial aid professionals at your child’s school may be able to help you locate these scholarship opportunities, but feel free to contact us for more comprehensive information!
3) Seek tax credits. There are a variety of tax credits available to defray the cost of higher education, including the Lifetime Learning Credit and the Hope Credit. It is critical that you structure your finances properly in order to qualify for the maximum credit amount, but once you have done so, you will have the opportunity to save substantial amounts of money each year!
4) Maximize your student’s award eligibility. Many students and families don’t realize how important standardized test scores are when it comes to determining how much aid a student qualifies for. We have been able to save families tens of thousands of dollars simply by improving ACT and SAT scores—contact us for more information about the savings that can be achieved this way!
5) Don’t touch your retirement savings! While many parents feel obligated to do everything they can to help their children, resist the urge to dip into your retirement savings. When all other options have been depleted, your child can always borrow money for college. He or she will have a lifetime to repay these loans. You, on the other hand, won’t be able to make up the losses to your retirement accounts nearly as quickly.
Yes, paying for college is expensive. And yes, it is only going to become more expensive in the future. But that does not mean that you need to sacrifice your lifestyle and your future plans in order to pay for it. Contact us for information and let us help you pay for college without breaking the bank!