Planning for college can be a daunting task, especially in the late stages of your child’s education. By planning ahead, you can ensure that you make informed decisions and successfully navigate the landscape of higher education. Here are some things to think about as you get started:
- Start doing research as early as your child’s freshman or sophomore year. The sooner you start, the more prepared you’ll be.
- Most students don’t pay the sticker price. Each school has a net price based on your individual circumstance. Private schools may provide more student aid, but State Universities may provide a lower net cost. Do your research. School choice, major, career prospects and affordability are most important.
- Weigh the cost of school along with the average year 1, 5 and 10 salary based on your students major. If loans needed exceed their first year average salary, you should look for a more affordable school.
- For affluent families, the largest source of money comes from Merit Scholarships directly from the schools themselves. They use these to attract students to their school.
- For middle class and affluent families, Federal aid may be limited to Federal Student Loans.
- Avoid ParentPlus loans at all costs. You’re on the hook for co-signing, not your student. Pick a more affordable school.
- File FAFSA and/or the CSS Profile regardless of your income level. Your student may not qualify for Merit Scholarships unless you do so. File as soon as possible.
- Beware of Insurance Agents recommending Whole Life, Universal Life, Indexed Life and Fixed/Indexed Annuities to reduce your expected family contribution/student aid index. It won't help with schools that use the CSS Profile and it could rob your retirement (with potentially poor returns), have severe penalties and create tax issues if you unwind the strategy prior to age 59.5.
- Create a college budget as soon as possible. This will help reduce surprises while your student is in school.
- Remember, the school your student attends is not the secret sauce to a successful career or satisfying life. Your student is.
With these ten quick tips in mind, you can approach the college planning process with confidence and help your child take their first steps towards a bright and fulfilling future. Click here to learn more about our College Planning Services
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