There is a direct state of confusion when parents start looking at the cost of college. How can this be? Many college educated parents had no idea how college was paid for when they went or they were well aware because they worked full time and/or went close to home to save money. Many of the strategies for paying for college 20 years ago do not work today. Colleges have increased 115% in costs according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Price Index. Don’t be taken by surprise when it comes to the true cost of college, and don’t assume that you will qualify for financial aid.
The best advice I can give is to actually talk about it with your student and lay down the maximum support that you can or are willing to provide. Talk as early as 9th grade and help your student understand why. Students do respond to facts and many do understand their role and rise to the occasion because it provides them with an “action plan.”
- Earn good grades
- Take challenging classes
- Do community service
- Look for scholarships
- Save half of what you earn for college/university
- Network in leadership positions
These are all do-able actions the student can take to assist in their college plan. Inspire your student by letting them know the facts and encourage them by recognizing any steps they make towards the “goal” of investing in their college education. Invite them into the process of affording college as a family.
Even if uncomfortable at first, talking with your student about how you as a family will afford their college education will save you a lot of trouble – and heartache – down the road. Don’t put it off!