Just applying to college adds up – and this is all before your student even sets foot on a college campus. No doubt about it, college is expensive. But will it stop you? Most families I speak with say “no – sending our kid to college is a priority”.
But, understandably, there are a lot of demands on your time and budget and many parents are banking on scholarships to help pay for college. Of course, there are strategies that can boost your chances of getting a scholarship, but you have to know about them and you have to actually use them.
Ultimately, the truth of the matter is, the college bill will have to be paid whether or not you’re awarded a scholarship or other aid. And even if you get a scholarship, there will still be a portion of the bill that you will be responsible for paying – and many parents are often shocked at how much they still have to pay AFTER a scholarship has been awarded.
So, no matter what, you’ll need to find money for college – after all, it’s a priority, right? Here are some ways to find money for college even on an already tight budget:
- Students’ savings – birthday money from grandma, bar/bat mitzvah, confirmation money, anytime your student receives money, put it into savings – after all, they’re the ones who are going to college, right?
- Make coffee at home – if you go to Starbucks 3 times a week, over the course of the year that’s over $600.
- Your grocery budget – when your student goes off to college, your bill will go down. If your bill drops $100 that’s $2,600 to $5,200 over a year. You can shift that money over to college expenses.
- Eat at home more – many families eat out more than twice a week. Reducing it to once a week can save you $200-400 per month. Another $2,400 – $4,800. (And your waistline will probably thank you, too).
- Become a strategic shopper. With a little planning, you can reduce your grocery bill by as much as 20-30% – taking advantage of coupons and specials can really make a big difference.
One final thing to consider – colleges are more willing to help families financial-aid-wise who have at least tried to save and prepare for college expenses. So taking steps now can actually work in your favor when it comes to the colleges offering you aid to help with the college bill.
It can seem overwhelming when it comes to thinking about how you’ll pay for college while still maintaining your lifestyle, planning for your retirement and fulfilling all of your other obligations.
But, you did say college is a priority, right?
Your Smart Plan For College Assignment.
Start figuring out your college budget and calculate how much you feel you can realistically pay towards college.
How much have you saved specifically for college? Divide it by 4 (that savings has to last 4 years). Add to it.
How much you feel you can squeeze out of your monthly budget (see above for ideas). Add to it.
How much outside sources such as relatives might be able to contribute.
Once you have an idea of how much you have for a college budget, you now need strategies that can help you stretch that college budget as far as possible. Start learning what you can do to keep college as affordable and then act on it.
Jeanmarie Keller has helped thousands of students get into colleges they love while making sure their parents save a fortune on the bill. Jeanmarie is the creator of the Smart Plan For College System which teaches her client-families how to get noticed in the admissions office, get in at the colleges right for them and how to get the money they need to help pay the bill.