A college education is a great start on the road to success. The big question, for parents and for students, is “How much will it cost?” According to Forbes, it’s going to cost quite a lot. In today’s market, tuition and fees cost an average $30,000 at a public school and nearly $60,000 at a private school. And that’s just the first year. You can expect costs to rise an average $2,000 per year. With that said, it’s never too early to start saving. Here are some ideas to help.
Open a college savings account at any bank and make regular deposits. Parents can use direct deposit to automatically set aside a portion of their income. Students should make it a habit of saving at least half of their own income for college. You might be surprised by how much money you can make babysitting, mowing lawns, and working summer jobs. Ask grandparents, aunts, and uncles to contribute what they would have spent on a gift and watch the savings increase.
Advanced Placement Classes
Take advanced placement (AP) classes in high school, which allow you to skip introductory college courses if you score well on year-end exams. Taking two AP classes can save $2,000 at a public school and $6,000 at a private school, according to the College Board. For students already in the workplace, check with your school about “testing out” of intro courses in the same manner. All students will likely have to pay an exam fee.
Work Your Way Through
It’s hard to hold down a full-time job and attend school, but it’s worth it if you can. Every penny you earn toward a degree is a penny that you don’t have to pay back later. Look into your school’s work-study program, which allows you to work off tuition costs while enrolled. Attend summer classes, which may be less expensive, and continue with your job, or double up on your jobs while you take the summer off from school.
Scholarships and Financial Aid
Work with your high school and college to find and apply for scholarships at the local, state, and federal levels. Ask parents to check at the office for scholarships for children of employees. Check with local service organizations such as the Rotary Club for scholarships. Grants, student aid, and student loans are additional funding sources and are available at both the state and federal level. Federal aid is available for a variety of qualifying factors, including military service.
It’s never easy to save money, but your investment in a college education will pay dividends for the rest of your life by opening doors to a variety of careers. For more information and help getting started, visit the College Board website listed above.