During College: New Year’s Resolutions to Help Current Students Make College More Affordable

January begins a new calendar year. For postsecondary students, it often marks the beginning of a new academic term. So its a great time to make New Year’s resolutions that’ll help make your education more affordable.

  • I’ll make a spending plan for my money each academic term! Add up the money you’ll have after paying for tuition and required fees (including room and board if living on-campus). Then divide the term into weeks. For each week, project what you’ll need for crucial necessities such as, if you live off-campus, groceries, rent, transportation to and from campus, and utilities. What remains is what you’ll have for personal spending — clothes, eating out, toiletries, etc. Need more? Seek a part-time job or expand, within limits, your hours in your current part-time job.
  • I won’t borrow more than I need, no matter how much my school offers me in federal student loans! Your financial aid office may offer the maximum amount for which you’re eligible from the Federal Direct Student Loan Program (FDLP), not just what you need. But the more you borrow the more interest you’ll be charged. At current interest rates, every $100 you borrow will cost as much as $44 in extra interest over the life of your loan. So contact your aid office about declining or downsizing any FDLP loans (unsubsidized loans first) you don’t need.
  • I’ll prepay my federal student loans whenever I can afford it! If you couldn’t downsize your FDLP loans, or if you have money left when end of the term’s coming, contact your aid office for help in making a “prepayment” on your FDLP loans (again, unsubsidized loans first) within 120 days of their disbursement date. Any amount you prepay this way will have it’s loan fees and interest cancelled.
  • I’ll keep trying for scholarships until I graduate! Plenty of students pursue scholarships before college, but far fewer do so once enrolled. Big mistake! Many scholarships are targeted at students already attending postsecondary schools. They may be offered by on-campus departments, off-campus organizations, and even providers in your hometown. So keep looking for them!

College costs can eat up considerable amounts of your lifetime earnings and take as long as 30 years to pay. So keep New Year’s resolutions such as these now for a better life later!

College Affordability Solutions can help you find ways to cut your college costs. For a free consultation, contact us at (512) 366-5354 or collegeafford@gmail.com.

Before College: New Year’s Resolutions for Parents of College-Bound Students to Make College More Affordable

January is New Year’s resolution time! If you want your child to get a college degree, here are just some of the college-affordability resolutions you should pursue this year.

  • I’ll maximize my investments and savings for my child’s college education! One academic year at a public 4-year college or university now costs $26,590 on average — a whopping 42% of Median Household Income (MHI)! At their current growth rate, this cost will grow to almost $35,000 in 10 years. Your annual earnings during the college years probably won’t cover them all. Put aside everything you can now so your child, and you, can borrow less later.
  • I’ll help my preteen become a strong reader, speaker, and writer! Good communication skills are important in almost everything, including college scholarships. Applicant essays and interviews usually get careful consideration from scholarship evaluators. Students who express themselves clearly, succinctly with grammatical correctness get more scholarships.
  • I’ll encourage my high schooler to participate in extracurricular activities, pursue leadership positions, and take on part-time employment! These things can enrich the high school years. But also, few scholarships get awarded solely on the basis of grades. Applicants strengthen their scholarship chances by persisting in out-of-class activities, working their way into leadership roles, and holding jobs.
  • I’ll help my high schooler begin identifying a career direction! This includes pinpointing activities and classes that make her happy, creating a self-portrait consisting of statements describing her personality, and developing a list of her top five strengths and weaknesses. She can seek fields of study and occupations that match these qualities by consulting her high school counselor and/or using online tools such as College Board’s Major and Career Search. All this will position her to better select the right postsecondary school and major.
  • I’ll support my child taking dual credit classes to attend college during high school. Almost every community college offers dual credit courses for low or no tuition. They provide a taste of college-level coursework and, provided they transfer into the college she’ll eventually attend, they’ll reduce her college costs by shortening the time it takes her to get the degree she wants.
  • If my child’s selecting a college this year, I won’t worry about it’s level of status and prestige! Focus instead on finding a college that’ll fit her well to reduce the chances of her transferring and having to pay for previously completed courses not accepted by her new school. Also, consider having her start at her local community college — where average cost of attendance can be as little as 35% of a public 4-year institution — for general courses that’ll transfer to wherever she’ll complete her bachelor’s degree.
  • If my child will leave home for college this year, I’ll ensure that she knows how to manage her money before he does. The merchants surrounding campus and those on-campus bookstores and eateries love separating students from their money. But knowing how to prioritize her spending, construct a spending plan (most students hate the word “budget”), and stick with that plan will make your child less likely to need emergency funds because her money’s run out.

Whether college will come sooner or later, things can done to make it more affordable. Get started now!

Looking for help in putting the pre-college parts of your postsecondary education finance plan together. Feel free to reach out to College Affordability Solutions at (512) 366-5354 or collegeafford@gmail.com to arrange a cost-free consultation.