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How to Help Your Child Pay for College: 7 Tips to Get You Started

October 6, 2022

by mikkie mills, guest contributor

Many parents are looking for ways to help fund their kid's college education. Some parents start when the child is young, opening savings accounts dedicated to tuition. Students closer to college can take an active role in saving and earning money for their education. With an average cost of over $55,000 for a private, four-year university, everyone should work on finding creative ways to pay for a college education. Here are some ways that can help increase your funding options.

1. Complete Student Aid Paperwork

Start early by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA form is your first step in knowing the types of grants and student loans for which your student is eligible. With this information, you can look into alternative funding sources, such as a student loan refinance.

2. Evaluate the School

Take a moment to consider the school that your child wants to attend. In addition to tuition, the cost of room and board can be extensive. Some scholarships may not cover room and board. A local university may provide a similar education without additional housing expenses. However, you can be creative when it comes to housing. If you have multiple children planning on attending universities close to one another, consider purchasing a house nearby. The siblings can stay in the home while at college. After your child graduates, you can rent or sell the house.

3. Apply for Scholarships

Students can begin applying for scholarships as early as their sophomore year. Some school-based sports and activities offer scholarships to high-performing students. Academic scholarships are available to high-achieving students. Many states offer scholarships for students that meet specific criteria in high school. These programs can provide up to two years of low-cost to free classes at approved community colleges.

4. Consider Their Career

Keep in mind that your student needs to pay the loan off. In some instances, they start paying while still in college. Ask yourself if the cost of the loan payments outweighs their potential income. Taking on $200,000 in debt may not be the best decision if their career choice does not pay enough to cover the monthly payments.

5. Start the Side-Hustle

Students can get a part-time job while in high school. Many local businesses thrive on hiring college students to work over the summer months. In addition, they can side hustle, doing freelance writing or selling products online. In addition to your child, you can also find a part-time job. Set up a direct deposit for that money to go directly into an account dedicated to your child’s college education.

6. Earn While They Learn

High school students can take dual-credit courses, receiving credit toward their high school and college diplomas. Some schools allow students to earn up to 60 college credit hours. Most provide textbooks, significant cost savings. While you are still responsible for the tuition, you offset inflation costs by paying for those courses a year or two before they graduate high school.

7. Use Your Home

If you own your home, you probably have significant equity built into it. You can refinance your home, taking the cash to pay a portion of your child's college tuition. Alternatively, a home equity line of credit allows you to borrow up to 90% of your home's equity. These lines of credit incur interest when the bank distributes the money, so you only pay interest on the amount you borrow.

No matter how you look at it, college gets more expensive every year. Take the time now to figure out the best options to help you support your child financially as they take this next step into adulthood.

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