That face … that face! You would do anything for that little face, the baby in your arms staring up at you. As a parent, you know the feeling of holding your newborn and dreaming about the future. So here’s one question: Are you dreaming about your child’s college education?
Of course, most parents would say “Yes, of course. I want my child to get the best education possible!” And they figure when the time comes, they’ll figure out how to pay for college. However, unless you create a plan to get there, unfortunately, you’ll find yourselves scrambling when it comes time to pay the bills.
Those college applications are going to come screaming in quicker than you think.
Many parents believe they have just two options to pay for college: either pay for it out of pocket, or take out the maximum amount of student loans. Others recognize that there is so much more to the equation but fail to plan (and therefore plan to fail). Why?
- They don’t want to invest the time or money in creating a plan. Putting money toward a future event, such as college savings or retirement, isn’t fun because you don’t get to enjoy the rewards until years later.
- They might know there are college funding options out there, but they don’t know exactly what they are or the extent of the options. They miss out on opportunities and deadlines, often letting free money go to waste.
- They don’t realize how early they need to start planning and run out of time. They aren’t aware that when their child is in the seventh grade, the clock is ticking.
Let’s tackle these three big issues head-on, shall we?
Planning gives you control.
College planning is hard. You don’t know what schools are going to accept you, you don’t know exactly how much financial aid you’ll get, and you don’t even know what you can afford. It’s no wonder no one wants to plan ahead!
There’s a better way though. Planning lets you take control of a situation that otherwise feels uncontrollable. Instead of letting the college decide your student’s future, you can create a plan to go where you want to go and spend what you want to spend.
You can apply wherever you want, knowing that you’re in a position of power, not subject to the rules and guidelines of “the system”! You get to have an active voice in deciding your child’s future instead of passively sitting back and letting colleges make all the decisions.
Calm, clear-headed and free of the emotion that plagues these kinds of decisions, you take back the power.
Dramatic? Not really, considering this is your child’s future we’re talking about.
It’s not your fault.
Whether or not you were aware that you have options beyond paying out of pocket or relying solely on loans, you likely do not know all of the hidden aspects of the college funding process.
How could you? It isn’t like the information is readily available. You don’t walk into a financial aid office and have them hand you a folder with your options. You have to do your homework and rely on experts to walk you through the process!
From grants and scholarships to student loans, tax advantages and college savings plans, it’s an intricate area of personal finance. Much like trusting your taxes with a professional, college funding — that is, really solid, smart college funding — requires expert guidance.
You can start now.
The earlier you start planning, the better off you are. But it’s never too late to begin planning for college. Even if the clock is ticking and those financial aid applications need to get submitted, there are still options.
That is, of course, if you’re serious about taking matters in your own hands. If you’re concerned about the skyrocketing costs of college, head over to CollegeFundingResource.com for input from a 10-year certified college planning specialist.