The first piece of advice is don’t go it alone. College planning and its funding is not a do-it-yourself activity. There’s too much to lose and so much more to gain. College seminars or workshops facilitated by college planning professionals can help you design the best savings strategies and tactical borrowing, to mitigate the cost of sending your children to college. The best thing about attending college seminars and workshops is that you realize you’re not alone. One of the great revelations most parents experience after attending a quality workshop is that they regret not attending years earlier.
One vital aspect of college planning is selecting the right institution for the right major. Discovering the right fit is critical in the selection process. And keep in mind if college bound young adults change their major, which frequently happens, it can add significant costs to their overall education.
Many of these workshops actually teach you how to fill out college admission forms and financial aid packages, which has become an art form in itself. College entrance forms and financial aid applications are routinely delayed and financial aid reduced because the documents were filled out incorrectly. There are three basic tests that a workshop will address to prepare your child for the best results on the SAT and ACT tests. A precursor to those exams is My Tuition Score that can evaluate college readiness and is a good starting place for measuring your family’s qualifications for financial aid.
Workshops can also address the financial resources available. When it comes to borrowing, examine the interest rate; some loans are actually at zero. When it comes to taking out a loan some qualify for an interest deduction and delayed payments until after graduation. There are federal, state and college specific loans available to apply for. Again, a professional financial adviser leading the workshop can really position you and your children in the best possible light for financial aid.
It’s your life. It’s your time. It’s your money.
John McDonough has contributed to this press release. Segments in part or whole are from his publications.