How Can Parents Make College More Affordable
Many parents believe a college education is out of reach for their child. Reassure them that a great number of financial resources can help make the dream of a college degree a reality. The key is planning ahead and learning about the financial aid process. Here are some things parents can do to bring college costs within reach:
- Save. State-sponsored college savings plans and prepaid tuition plans are available and are more effective the earlier parents start saving.
- Get free money to help pay. Enlist parents’ help in encouraging students to look for scholarships earlyideally, in spring of 11th grade or the summer between 11th and 12th grades. The more scholarships a student gets , the more affordable college is.
- Compare colleges for the best deal. The College Scorecard offers a way to assess not only a school’s affordability but also its value for money. You can find scorecards for colleges based on factors such as programs or majors offered, location, and enrollment size.
Description:Fact sheet for parents with tips on saving money for college or career school. Resource Type:Handout
Compare Financial Aid Packages
When your child is accepted into a college, theyll receive a financial aid package . Comparing financial aid packages from different schools is incredibly important. You can weigh how much aid each school is willing to give your student against other perks or drawbacks in order to narrow down the list.
No two schools have the exact same financial aid offerings or admissions policies, so their offer letters may look entirely different. On top of that, the type of school might affect the type of aid or the amount of aid offered by quite a bit. For example, private schools tend to offer their students more in the way of financial aid to offset the higher tuition costs, whereas public schools may not offer quite as much, but typically have lower sticker prices to begin with.If you feel your child has not been offered as much as they deserve or need, you can potentially appeal the offer letter for more aid.
Apply For Private Scholarships
There are thousands of private scholarships out there from companies, nonprofits and community groups. Ask your high school guidance counselor or use a free online service like Scholly that suggests scholarships you might be eligible for. A company called NextGenVest offers a free mentor who can also suggest scholarships, as well as help you understand your aid award.
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How To Pay For College
College financial aid offices help students determine how they will pay for school. Because schools expect students to need financial help to pay for college, most schools offer free financial counseling services for current and prospective students.
- 84% of students receive some form of financial aid.
- Scholarships and grants cover $7,500 of annual academic costs per student.
- For federal and state government aid, the average award per student is $13,100.
- Students who attend nonprofit private schools receive the most federal and state government aid.
- Parental support accounts for the greatest financial contribution to most students educations.
- Parental income and savings, parental borrowing, and college savings accounts cover over half of students educational expenses.
- Excluding college savings plans, $11,900 is roughly how much parents pay for one academic year of their childrens education.
- Long-term, high-yield savings accounts and property mortgages are common strategies parents use to pay for college education.
Set Up An Education Trust
- You are able to specify your wishes in the trust agreement, and the trustee will be legally obligated to fulfill them.
- Youll be able to restrict your grandchilds access to the funds regardless of his or her age.
- Legal and accounting fees to establish and maintain a trust can be high.
- Gifts are irrevocable, meaning that once you create the trust, you cant undo it and get the funds back without the consent of the trustee and beneficiaries.
- Any income earned in the trust will be taxed at high rates.
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Choose Your School Wisely
Contrary to popular belief, this doesnt always mean choosing the school with the lowest sticker price. If you can qualify to get into an elite Ivy League school, for instance, you might find that they charge absolutely no tuition. Some of the most well-known schools have the most robust financial aid programs, even for upper-middle-income families.
The key here is to apply broadly to different schools. Try some local schools, which well talk about in a moment, that have a lower sticker price. But consider more prestigious, expensive schools, too. Then, compare the schools based on their actual cost after non-loan financial aid is applied.
Once this is done, choose a school that you can afford, but one that also has a strong program for your area of interest. Remember, future employers care less than youd think which school your degree comes from, as long as you have taken the right courses and excelled in your program.
Put Money Into A Custodial Account Under Ugma/utma For Your Grandchild
- You can easily transfer cash, stocks and other types of property into this type of account.
- Your grandchilds first $1,050 of unearned income will be sheltered completely by the standard deduction, and the next $1,050 of unearned income will be taxed at their own tax bracket .
- Your grandchild will assume all rights to the funds once he or she reaches legal age so theres no guarantee that the money will be spent on college.
- Any unearned income above $2,100 will trigger the Kiddie Tax and be taxed at the rates that apply to trusts and estates.
- The value of a custodial account will be counted as a student asset on the FAFSA, and will reduce financial aid eligibility by 20% of the account value.
- So if the UGMA/UTMA account is worth $10,000, your grandchilds aid eligibility will be reduced by $2,000.
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How Your Parents Income Affects Your Eligibility For Federal Aid
As any prospective college student prepares to head off to school, one of the first steps is completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid . This application gathers information about your familys financial situation, and it dictates which types of student aid you qualify for.
Fill out the FAFSA even if you think your parents make too much. Several factors determine your eligibility for student aid, and your parents income is only one of them.
When filling out the FAFSA, you are asked to provide detailed information about your parents financial circumstances, including tax returns so that income can be evaluated.
These details are used to help calculate your financial need, which determines your eligibility for certain types of state and federal financial aid. Although your family income is a significant source of insight for federal aid applications, it is not the only factor.
Grants From Your State
States use your FAFSA to determine your eligibility for state financial aid, so you get a two-for-one with that application . But some states require additional documentation, and their deadlines are not always the same as the federal ones.
Note that most state grants are only applicable for in-state schools, but there are some state grants and scholarships you can use for out-of-state tuition.
Check out your states FAFSA requirements for rules and deadlines.
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See If You Are Eligible For A Dependency Override
Financial aid administrators have the ability to change a students status from dependent to independent. Unfortunately, a parents refusal to provide their information wont help you get your status changed.
However, if you have extenuating circumstances, there are some options. Extenuating circumstances include:
- Suffering from abuse
- Incarcerated or institutionalized caretagers
It can be difficult to share something so personal with a stranger, but having someone on your side could help you get the aid you need.
Take Out Student Loans
If there is still a gap in funding after all other options are explored, you may need to take out student loans. Before you take out a student loan, make sure you do your research and compare loan types, such as federal and private, loan terms, features, interest rates and repayment options.
Did You Know?
If you are still weighing your college options or need to compare college costs, you can test out various college planning scenarios with My College Plan.
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What To Do If Your Parents Cant Or Wont Help Pay
What can you do if your parents cant help pay for school?
This section of Finaid provides advice to students whose parents are unable or unwilling to help students pay for school. Regardless of the situation, some of the more common questions received by Finaid come from students seeking help because their parents cannot contribute to their education.
Finaid supports changes in federal legislation that would shift the burden to the students. Unfortunately, current federal law does not provide many options for students who want to go to college but whose parents refuse to help.
Federal Government Policies on Parental Responsibility
The federal government and the schools consider it primarily the familys responsibility to pay for school. They provide financial assistance only when the family is unable to pay. If a family just doesnt want to pay, that wont make a difference. Parents have a greater responsibility toward their children than the government or the schools.
The US Department of Education has published guidance to financial aid administrators indicating that neither parent refusal to contribute to the students education nor parent unwillingness to provide information on the student aid application or for verification is sufficient grounds for a dependency status override. This is true even if the parents do not claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes or the student demonstrates total self-sufficiency.
Advice for Students and Parents
Live Off Campus Or Enroll In Community College
If commuting to school and living at home is an option, it can save a lot of money. The average cost for room and board is $10,440 at public colleges and $11,890 a year a private institutions. That can be just as much as the cost of tuition at some schools.
If your finances are really stretched thin, it might be worth exploring enrolling in a community college before transferring to a four-year school later. Tuition and fees at the average community college cost $3,520 last year.
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Obtain A Certificate And Work Until You Can Declare Yourself An Independent
Certificates are an increasingly popular alternative to 4-year college degrees. Although they do not capture the well-rounded experience of a bachelors degree, they can open doors for your career. On top of that, they can be obtained for a fraction of the cost and time. Some certificates can even be obtained in a matter of months. If your parents refuse to pay for your college, try looking into some certificate programs.
Certificate programs can prepare you for jobs in coding, IT, data analytics, and more. Even if you are not interested in a long-term career in these fields, a certificate can be of use. You can find a job in one of these high-paying fields without any college education. You can use this career to save up money for college, and eventually file as an independent when you turn 24. Apprenticeships are another great option for students who want to get relevant work experience, a competitive salary, and a practical education.
takes only a few months and costs around $100 for most users. This is a low-cost and high-reward program that can help jump-start your career without any college. Coding bootcamps also require no previous experience and can be completed quickly. Many coding bootcamps have demonstrated high income boosts for their participants. If you cant afford college right now, remember that there are other options out there to land a high-paying job.
You Can Contribute To A 529 Plan Owned By Your Grandchilds Parent
- Your gift can grow substantially over time with tax-free earnings and tax-free withdrawals when the funds are used to pay for college.
- There will be no effect on your grandchilds FAFSA when the parent withdraws funds to pay for college.
- You can still take advantage of the favorable gift-tax treatment on your contributions.
- Assets held in a student- or parent-owned 529 account will be counted as a parental asset on the FAFSA, and can reduce aid eligibility by a maximum of 5.64% of the account value.
- You will not have control of the funds since the account will be in the parents name.
- You may or may not be able to claim a state tax credit or deduction on your contributions.
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Look For Scholarships And Grants
Some of these awards are based on demographic details of the student, such as race, ethnicity, gender, or geography. Other scholarships and grants provide funds to those who are following a particular degree path, or those who submit essays on a specific topic.
A misconception about scholarships and grants is that these funds are only available to those who are low-income. That simply isnt the case. Scholarships and grants are given for a variety of reasons.
For example, the Palantir Women in Technology Scholarship is open to students who identify as women who are pursuing an undergraduate degree in STEM subjects.
Financial Aid Options: How To Pay For School Without Student Loans
Want to say no to student loans? This section will outline realistic financial strategies to help you do that.
Your options for paying for school without loans largely depend on your financial status. Many non-loan financial aid options are need-based, so students who demonstrate high financial need tend to have more aid opportunities. There are some merit-only aid options that dont take financial need into account – if you dont demonstrate much financial need, those options will be a good place to start.
Before you start considering non-loan payment strategies, you may find it helpful to estimate your own financial need. This way, you’ll have a better idea of what aid options are available to you. Unfortunately, the amount you believe your family can afford doesnt always match up with the amount that aid sources determine you can afford.
To get a realistic idea of what many need-based aid sources will expect your family to contribute, check out the FAFSA4caster:
- Enter in relevant financial information to get an unofficial EFC, or Expected Family Contribution
- The federal government, schools, and some need-based aid sources use this number to make an assessment of your familys financial need
- The lower your EFC, the more aid you’re likely to be eligible for
Once you make this estimate, you’ll know whether you should focus on the need-based aid options.
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Open A 529 Plan In Your Own Name
- 529 accounts offer tax-free earnings and tax-free withdrawals when the money is spent on qualified higher education expenses, including tuition, books, supplies, and some room and board costs.
- You can deposit up to $75,000 into a 529 plan without incurring gift taxes when you elect to treat the contribution as if it were made over a five-year period.
- Your grandchild can use the funds from a 529 plan to pay for any eligible post-secondary institution.
- Depending on where you live and which plan you open, you may get a state tax credit or deduction for your contributions.
- Although the money in the account will have no effect on your grandchilds financial aid eligibility, the amount you withdraw to pay for his or her college will be counted as student income on the FAFSA.
- The earnings portion of non-qualified withdrawals are subject to income tax as well as a 10% penalty .
- In some states, money saved in your 529 account will be considered available assets that must be spent on medical and long-term care expenses before Medicaid can begin.
How To Pay For College Without Your Parents Help
You may not want to hear this right now, but paying for your own college education can actually be good for you . Taking on the responsibility can teach you budgeting techniques and saving strategies that you might not have learned if your parents were picking up the tab.
You can start saving on college by choosing a less-expensive school heres our list of the best college bargains by state.
Once youve narrowed your choices, check out these eight ways to pay for college without money from your parents or student loans.
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If All Else Fails Wait Until Youre 24
If you still cant navigate around your parents, your last option would be waiting until youre legally considered an independent student. Students are able to file their FAFSA® as an independent at the age of 24. In this case, youll only have to provide your financial information.
While it may not be ideal to wait to turn 24, this could allow you to get some work experience and save some money before starting college.
A parent unable or refusing to help with FAFSA® can be stressful, but dont worry, there are workarounds in place for a reason. Speak to your financial aid office as soon as possible.
If you have additional questions, the Frank Team is here to help. You can reach us via email at or text us at 690-7886.