The average all-in price (including tuition and fees) for four years at an in-state, public college approaches $40,000 and exceeds $102,000 for an out-of-state college, according to the College Board. And the tab runs even higher — nearly $140,000 — for private, nonprofit colleges.
As the costs of higher education continue to rise, many parents and children are looking for innovative ways to foot the bill. Below are five suggestions that may help aspiring students and their parents minimize the stress to fund college:
1. Plan ahead
The earlier you start, the more time your money has to grow, making it less of a financial burden. Set up a tax-advantaged savings plan, such as a 529 Plan, at least two years before the student’s admission date. Parents, or even grandparents, can set up prepaid tuition and college savings plans for the beneficiary.
2. Crowdsource it
Host a fundraising event or use a crowdfunding platform, such as GoFundMe, to allow friends and family to support the student’s education goals.
3. Explore employee benefits
Some employers offer college funding to employees and their family members. Speak with your company’s HR representative to find out if this is an employee benefit and, if so, how you can take advantage of it.
4. Pledge not to pay full price
You can find out the net price for individual institutions via the net price calculator on a university’s website or via EFC Plus – The College Funding Solution. For a discounted price, apply to receive financial aid money by completing and submitting the FAFSA (Free Application for Student Aid) or look to professional associations or employers that provide merit-based scholarship funds to support students in their field of interest.
5. Get a head start
Start taking college courses even before going to college. Many high schools offer advanced courses for college credit, helping students graduate early and reducing costs to live out of the home.
There is a wealth of public and private sources for college funding, many overlooked or underutilized. A certified finanical planner can help your family plan and sort through all the various options to reduce or even eliminate the financial challenges faced when students are college bound. Investing in yourself or a loved one may be one of the most rewarding things you can do. Plan creatively to make it a gratifying experience.