Group of college students

Going off to college is one of the biggest steps in your child’s move from teenage to adult years. As they quickly move through their senior year in high school they will be applying to different universities, scheduling campus visits and opening acceptance letters and celebrating their success. It’s an amazing time as you see your kid move from high school graduation to preparing to head off to their new school soon, where it’s a good time to learn about living on a budget and the impact your credit score can have. Every year college costs continue to rise, so attending a four-year program is an expensive proposition.

The First Steps

One of the first steps you and your prospective student should take is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This provides schools with the financial information necessary for them to make a determination about how they could assist you in paying for college. If you filled out your FAFSA form, then every school that sends you an acceptance letter will also send you a financial aid offer. The financial aid offer is your starting point on the road to paying for your university degree. It will spell out the Cost of Attendance (COA) for a full year at the school including tuition, room and board and all fees as well as expected personal expenses. The offer will also list the different scholarships, grants and federal work study programs that the school is offering your child. Additionally, the amount available through federal student loans will be shown and it may list the amounts that could be available through other loan programs and private credit loans.

Deciding How Much You Can Pay

Everyone wants to take care of their child in life. One of the best ways that you can do that is to make sure they get a great college education. When you look at your financial situation, there will be several things you will want to evaluate. Carefully review the aid offer and see exactly how much money is needed after you subtract scholarships, grants and work study from the balance. You should also look for money you can free up. For instance, if you can refinance your mortgage then you’ll save hundreds each month that can be put toward your child’s school tuition. Since your child usually goes off to college later in your life, you will have to carefully balance your retirement needs with their college expenses. One of the best ways to honor both needs is to have your child apply for student loans but offer to be a co-signer on the notes. This will help assure lenders that the loans will be repaid and will increase the student’s borrowing power. By co-signing the student loans you will be helping provide your child with the education they deserve.

Reasons to Help

There are many important reasons for your son or daughter to get a university degree. As the economy increasingly creates jobs that require more skills, people with undergraduate educations qualify for more job opportunities. Unemployment rates are generally lower for university graduates. If your child goes to college, they will earn substantially more each year for every year of their working lifetime. When you help pay for school, you ease the financial burdens on your child. Instead of being constantly stressed about college expenses and wondering if they can even complete all four years, they can rest assured that you are there to help them with everything. Knowing they are taken care generally translates to better grades, higher graduation rates and a much more positive university experience.


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