ST. CROIX INSIGHTS
4 Steps on how to afford college – High School graduation is in the air.
BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC
How to afford college? I’m not worried about having to pay $10,000, $15,000 or $30,000 each year for four or five years for my kids to attend college. I used to worry about having to save or pay for college. I don’t anymore. My perspective completely changed based on my personal experience that wasn’t even related to paying for college. I’m happy to have a sidebar conversation on why if you ever want. Back to paying for college and how to make it affordable. Here are 4 simple steps each and every one of our kids can take to help pay or reduce their college tuition bill.
Over my vast experience in the financial services world, talking with hundreds if not over a thousand people, it’s generally not the mortgage or the car payment, but rather just everyday life that really gets us. It all adds up. $5 here, $50 there, $250 here- it all adds up to real money each month. It’s financial leakage. We all have it, yet, some of us are better than others at controlling it.
- ACT Score – This is the best way to obtain free money for college. When you kids focus and invest the time preparing for this exam, chances are it will be money in the bank, depending on the school if you score a 30 or higher. Most kids are not going to achieve a perfect score on the ACT to get a full ride, but I suspect many have the chance to receive some type of money based on their score. I know this is to be true as I’ve seen it firsthand.
- FAFSA Form (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) – This is going to seem like a dah moment, but it’s overlooked and so easy to fill out your form wrong and miss out on real money. First off, you don’t even want to fill out the form, so you rush through it not paying attention to the details. For example, line 91 of the FAFSA form wants to know about parent’s current investments. Without thinking or looking into the details, you’ll look at your balance sheet and fill it in. But wait…. what are they really asking? This line has major exclusions – the home they live in, cash, savings and checking accounts (but includes money market – interesting), the value of life insurance and retirement plans (401k’s, pension funds, annuities, noneducational IRA’s, and other similar types of accounts. You want to make sure you understand the question they are asking and provide the actual number they seek. Otherwise, you might be missing out on financial aid monies.
- Award letters – no matter what, you want to schedule an appointment with the financial aid officers. I’ve had clients knock off $3,000, $10,000 off their kid’s yearly tuition bill just by making a phone call. Many are reluctant to make a phone call or plead on their own why they need additional financial support. I see it this way, do you have another way within 10 minutes to make $5,000 or $10,000? No, you do not!
- Save money with community college first – I know many will not find this ideal. Heading to a local community college, but it’s a great strategy on how to afford college and truly allow you time in discovering what you‘d like to pursue as a degree. Changing your college major is expensive. Remember, when you graduate with a four-year degree from a college or university, it’s doesn’t matter that you attended the local community college.
These are four simple steps on how to afford college. College will be your 3rd or 4th largest expenses in your lifetime. Let’s it get it right together. If you want to discuss other money-saving strategies, give me a shout.
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