The end of one school year is ending and for most high schoolers, college is right on the horizon. College applications have gone out and acceptance letters will be arriving in the mail. I remember when my daughter started college 2 years ago, the applications, the numerous campus visits until she found the college that she wanted to attend. Of course you want your kids to go to college, be successful, and make a good life for themselves, but it is important that they know what they are getting into. Attending college is expensive, and there are several lessons you can teach them before they learn them the hard way.
1. Tuition: First and foremost, it is important that college students learn how much tuition actually costs per year. It may not look like they are racking a lot up when they only see how much it is per semester. College students need to know if the cost of tuition is financially feasible. Community colleges tend to be a lot cheaper but may only offer a 2 year degree but you can almost always transfer credits when you’re ready to finish your 4yr degree.
2. Stafford Loans: Stafford loans seem so great. The government offers you these loans with low interest rates or no interest rate depending on their parent’s income. What your college student need to know however is this is not free money. They will be responsible to pay this money pack 6 months after they graduate or withdraw from school. If they don’t pay these loans, the government can come after their tax checks and can also take it out of their payroll checks.
3. Personal Loans: Personal loans for school are almost too good to be true. Yes, they are fairly easy to get, but it is important that college students know these interest rates are excessively high. For a low $600 loan, they could pay back up to $1200 dollars for it. They need to learn to look at interest rates and see how much they are actually going to pay back because, again, these loans are nearly impossible to get out of. They won’t get canceled on bankruptcy and very few qualify to get their loans forgiven.
4. Book Fees: College is not just tuition. You have to pay for your own books. Many books can cost several hundred a piece. They could end up quite easily spending $1000 a semester just on books. It’s important to teach college students how to shop frugally for books online. You can also rent most of your school text books, unless a specific book is required by the professor, that can only be obtained from the college. We decided to rent quite a few of her books and saved a lot of money in the long run.
5. Scholarships: Push scholarships. College students need to learn that this money actually is free money. However, nothing comes free. If they want to get scholarships, they are going to have to put in the work before college to get them. Whether this is getting good grades in high school, applying for online grants, essay writing, or volunteer services, there are several grants that can help them pay for college without all the debt.
6. Grants: Grants are, also, free money from the government when college students fill out their FAFSA. It is important for college students to learn that these grants do not cover everything. They are very minimal and depend on their parent’s income as well as how much the tuition costs at the school they are attending.
7. Annual Salary: College students need to know what their annual salary could be when they graduate. If their tuition is more than their annual salary will be for the degree they are going for, it may be better to go to a college with a lower tuition rate. College students need to know that their college tuition total (4 years) should be no more than 1-year salary for the degree they are going for.
Now there is college housing to also consider. Dorm rooms can work out to be as much as tuition in some cases and most colleges require that you include a meal plan if you’re a freshman driving up the cost even more. College students don’t know what they are getting into financially when they start out, therefore, it is important to break it down for them and explain each situation ahead of time so they get the most out of their college experience.
Let’s discuss: What other ways can you think of that can save your college student money?