5 tips to help your children pay for college? Yes, please! Today we have a friend guest posting here at LAAB! I know many of you have children of your own or you will soon, so this is a topic worth exploring. I figured who better to get advice from than someone who has actually graduated college debt free?! Take it away, Jacob…
My wife and I said hello to our beautiful little girl, Kori, nine months ago (December 21, 2015). Since then, like all good parents, we have constantly been asking each other questions about the future. One of the questions that have come up recently has been whether or not we want to help our children pay for college.
Personally, I worked myself through college without receiving any help from my parents; so I would rather have my children pay their own way. However, my wife’s parents helped her pay for school, so naturally, she wants to pay for college.
Needless to say, we are still trying to compromise on this issue! However, we have come to a consensus that regardless if we help pay for their schooling or not, we want our children to work hard and save as much as they can on their own.
With this scenario fresh on my mind, I want to give you 5 tips to help your children pay for college. This will ease your financial burden and also help nurture and raise hardworking children who understand that money truly doesn’t grow on trees!
Tip #1 to Help Your Children Pay for College – Help them Save Before They Start
In my mind, there are three main ways to help kids save money before they start college:
- They can work part-time in high school. I worked part-time in high school, in addition to playing sports and doing my homework. By the time I graduated high school I had $10,000 in my savings account. That was an incredible help as I started working my way through school. Allowing your kids to work part-time will help them gain valuable life lessons and help them save personal money for college.
- They can take college courses in high school. Many high schools and local colleges have dual enrollment programs. Your kids can take regular high school classes, add in a little extra study time, and a few extra tests and they will graduate high school with college credits. The icing on the cake is that most of the programs are free (or reasonably cheap).
- They can wait one year before starting. I don’t think there is any shame for our children to wait one year before starting college. As parents, we should consider supporting our children going out into the real world for one year, working hard and saving money. If they were about to get a job making $10/hour, and they worked 40 hours/week for one year, they would have earned $20,800 before taxes. That is some serious money to help pay for school.
Tips #2 to Help Your Children Pay for College – Get a Job During College & Keep It
I really enjoyed working my way through college (weird, right?). I worked 40+ hours every week for all five years I was in college. It was definitely hard… and I gave up a lot of things for it, namely my social life, but in the end, I learned valuable skills and a host of life lessons along the way.
As parents, we need to encourage our children to work a part-time job during school. In addition to earning money, working during school also helps provide life experiences and an education that goes beyond the walls of college, like how to be on time, on task, and work as a team.
After a few years of working, I finally ended up landing an entry level accounting position. At the same time, I had just started my upper-level accounting classes. Working and studying accounting at the same time allowed me to apply the knowledge I learned at school to my job. Subsequently, I learned things at my job that then made school a whole lot easier and it allowed more topics to finally click in my brain.
I believe that your children will also have similar opportunities presented to them if they have been in the workforce during college. I might also add that employers really like kids who have a degree and work experience.
Tip #3 to Help Your Children Pay for College – Start at a Junior College
I still don’t know why anyone actually goes straight to a 4-year college right out of high school. You pay more, you have bigger class sizes (so less help from teachers), and it is often a really big jump for a lot of students mentally and emotionally.
If you are a parent who is paying for at least some of their child’s schooling, you really should consider having them start at the junior college. It’s cheaper and they will probably have a better transition. After they graduate, they can transfer to a four-year college. They will get the same degree as a student who was at that school for all four years.
Tip #4 to Help Your Children Pay for College – Maximize Scholarships & Grant Money
It is wise to apply for and seek out grant and scholarship money. Help your children do this. It may be complicated and hard for a teenager to locate, apply, and then qualify for scholarships and grants. If they are able to land some scholarships or grant money, your financial burden will be lifted and they will feel achievement at being awarded something so valuable.
Tip #5 to Help Your Children Pay for College – Learn How to Budget & Live True to It
Budgeting is a big deal. Not only as parents should you be budgeting, (especially if you are planning on paying for your children’s’ college) but your children should learn how to budget as well.
Creating a budget isn’t enough… it’s living true to that budget that is the hardest part. If your children see you sacrifice for their schooling, they will be more appreciative of the help you are providing.
If you want to learn more about budgeting, need help creating your first budget, want to use an online calculator, or download free templates and spreadsheets, then head over to my blog to learn more.
I was able to get through school debt free, without help from my parents. Think how much better off your children will be if you employ these 5 tips to help them pay for college.
Your personal financial burden will be eased as your children save their own money to pay for college. In addition, you will also help your children cultivate a desire to work hard and better prepare for their own future. Isn’t that what parents are for, anyways?
Jacob Merkley is a Part-Time blogger who focuses on teaching others about Life Skills that put YOU in control. He blogs over at PowerOverLife.