College Preparing: Financially

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The average in-state tuition and fees for full-time undergraduate students is approximately $6,200 per year for a public two-year college, and about $5,206 per year for a four-year public university. Private four-year schools averaged $16,888 per year in 2005-06. Unless you know for a fact that your child is going to receive a substantial scholarship, or you are otherwise able to finance the tuition, you really should begin saving at birth. Unfortunately, many parents wait until their child is in high school to begin saving for college.

There are many ways to prepare your children, financially, for college. The key is that you must start early. You should:

  • Help them select junior high and high school courses based on the type of school they plan to attend.

  • Encourage extra curricula activities, such as student government, academic organizations, music and sports.

  • Review the admissions requirements for possible schools, during the beginning of your child’s high school career. Select classes and activities based upon these requirements.

  • Develop criteria for choosing a college or technical school. Consider things such:

    o Curriculum

    o School size, and

    o Affordability

There’re many ways to finance post secondary degrees or training. Of course, there’s always a student loan. However, that should be a last resort. There’re many scholarship opportunities for students, both small and large. You should apply for all scholarships when your child meets minimum criteria, even if it’s for a small amount. Remember, small amounts add up to large amounts. If your child attends school in Georgia and meets the minimum requirements, there’s always the HOPE scholarship. Also, school counselors are a great resource and can locate financial aid from places that you may not consider. Just remember, you must contact them before your child reaches 12th grade.

Next to buying a house, financing college can be one of the biggest expenses parents and students make. College or technical school will costs thousands of dollars, and for advance degrees, hundreds-of-thousands of dollars. Paying for college should be a family affair, and everyone has a role to play in order to make it affordable. The earlier you start, the easier it will be.

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