How you can help pay for your child to go through college
College. In case you didn’t know, it isn’t cheap! The average price to attend a private, non-profit college for a four-year course in America is $46,950. Unless your children are one of the lucky ones to have received a scholarship, then that is some serious money to find.
Thankfully, there are plenty of ways in which you can help to finance your child through their education. Most students will be eligible for some form of financial help which in actual fact reduces that average price we’ve quoted above to around $20,090. Still big, but much more manageable.
Here, we’re going to take you through some of the ways in which your child can pay their way through college. From grants to loans, there are lots of different options available to you.
Colleges, states, and the federal government all give our grants which don’t need to be repaid. Most of these will be based on your financial needs and determined by the income that was reported on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form that every US college student fills in to be eligible for financial aid.
Last year, grants for undergrads at private colleges were around $16,700 according to research carried out by The College Board. The biggest grants come from the colleges themselves as they will assess how much they think you can afford to pay towards your child going to college and then offer to make up the difference themselves. So, if they believe you can contribute $20,000 or $40,000, then they might provide a grant for $20,000.
A Federal Pell Grant meanwhile is a government grant of up to $5,920 which is available to those on the lowest income. Eligibility for various state grants varies, but you should always check out what is available in your local area.
Take out a loan
Some 42 percent of parents borrow to fund their children through college, and if your child isn’t eligible for grants or hasn’t received a scholarship, it can be seen as the only way.
There are special federal student loans that you can apply for known as PLUS loans which can help to pay for your child to go through college. These require a credit check and come with a higher interest rate. The college will determine how much you can borrow based on their estimates of the cost of attendance minus any other financial aid they’re aware of your child receiving.
Alternatively, you can always take out a more traditional personal loan. Bad credit doesn’t have to be a hindrance with these, especially if you opt for a bad credit student loan. There are very few restrictions placed on who can take these out – click the link to read more on this topic.
Ask the college for financial aid
If you don’t ask, then you don’t get. Sometimes, you might be able to explain a desperate financial situation in person far more effectively than a form or application can. Some experts have even suggested this is the way to go for trying to reduce the cost of education, advising students to write a formal letter followed by a phone call to state their case and show their desire to learn at a particular institute.
One thing to remember if you go down this route is to highlight any changes in your financial circumstances. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid form was submitted based on income from the previous year that may no longer exist due to a change of circumstances. Your family might have incurred unexpected medical bills which wiped a significant amount from savings intended for college.
Detailing all this as well as getting across the point that your child is a good fit for their school can often see a college agreeing to do more financially.
Apply for private scholarships
You might be struggling to afford to put your child through college, but a private company with big pockets won’t. Private scholarships are becoming an increasingly popular way for students to finance their way through college and it isn’t hard to see why as it’s a win-win situation for those receiving the scholarships and the businesses, nonprofit organizations and charities handing them out.
For a Silicon Valley tech company who is raking in millions of dollars each year, forking out $100,000 to send a couple of students through college is a drop in the ocean. Not only does it help them educate the brightest young people and secure them for possible job roles when they graduate, but it also generates a lot of goodwill as a company seen to be willing to invest in the future.
For the student, the benefits are clear to see. They’re effectively getting a free education and, if they do well, have their foot in the door at a major company or organization.
There are plenty of online services that list the various scholarships available. Use these to determine whether any are suitable for your child and get applying.
Claim a tax credit
The American Opportunity Tax Credit allows you to reduce your tax bill by up to $2,500 per child undertaking a college education. You can claim this money back against the cost of tuition fees, books, and room and board – as long as your modified adjusted gross income is no more than $90,000 if filing singularly or $180,000 if filing jointly.
Encourage your child to take up a work-study job
Working while at college is often seen as being detrimental to a student’s chances of success, but the work-study job scheme has been designed in such a way that it shouldn’t affect your child’s studies – presuming they are eligible to apply.
These roles are part-time and located on or nearby campus. Wages are paid directly to students, normally on a monthly basis. They are reserved for those children from poorer backgrounds and as such, whether you are eligible for the role will again come down to what your Free Application for Federal Student Aid form says.