Many families save, plan and try to do everything right, but when it comes time to send their children to college and to dig into their save-for-college fund, many families also quickly realize that they haven’t saved enough. In addition to setting aside money for your child’s college education, there are ways to stretch the college purse strings to make the most of every nickel and dime. Here are some:
Apply for Grants and Scholarships
The first place to start searching for grants and scholarships is by submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form: The FAFSA must be in by the deadline: typically in June. The program can help your child to research and apply for grants and scholarships.
If you have the Gerber Life College Plan1: It won’t count against you for receiving financial aid, unlike some other save-for-college plans.
Carefully Choose a Major
Nothing is perhaps more expensive than spending college money for classes that don’t count toward your child’s major or that won’t significantly benefit his or her future. Talk early and often with your child about possible fields of study, keeping in mind that your child should be passionate about the fields being considered and that they offer a future for job prospects.
Buy Used Books
Textbooks are a necessary expense, but can be extremely expensive. Students can save big by buying used textbooks online or from campus resources including other students. To search for the best prices, try a used-book comparison site such as BigWords.com.
Live at Home
Living at home can save a lot of money in the long run, considering that room and board on a typical college campus can run from $7,000 to $9,000 or more per year, according to Scholarships.com.
Attend a Community College or Technical College
Community colleges and technical colleges offer most of the general classes that a student needs to take before diving deep into a major, making them an extremely cost-effective way to keep a lid on college expenses. Many of these colleges also offer a small, close-knit community experience that can help your child to ease into college life without the feeling overwhelmed or the pressure of a larger, more expensive four-year school.
Work While In School
Many college students contribute to their college and living expenses by working while in school. Doing so can help students to avoid or reduce college debt, gain on-the-job experience in their preferred field of study, and teach responsibility and time management skills. Working while in school may also help your child to land a job following graduation.
1 Policy Form ICC09–PIE and Policy Form Series PIE-09