Researching colleges, applying to college, and funding a college education can be overwhelming for both parents and students. However, with the right preparation and strategy you can find the best possible fit for your child. That said, getting started can be equally stressful. Thankfully, it doesn’t need to be that way.
Getting organized is the first step to prepare your child for college. You should create a schedule, develop a financial plan, and create a filing system for of their important documents. You too also need to be organized with your thoughts and ideas, so write everything down in a notebook or journal, so you can discuss them at a later date. In order to be successful with this tip, it’s important that you don’t overwhelm yourself by trying too much too soon. Start with one thing at a time and once that task is done, move onto another. The last thing you want to is to get lost while trying to get organized.
Learn About College Financing
Paying for your child’s education is your top priority. As such, you want to make sure that they have not only enough money to pay for all of their classes, but also any extras they may need. In addition to federally based funding, you may also want to apply for a low-interest Private Parent loan. These types of loans are different than FASFA. This route, you’re responsible for applying and repayment of the loan. Your child is approved based on your creditworthiness. You can choose to only borrow enough to cover their tuition, or you can opt to borrow a bit more to help pay for housing and supplies. Note, that your credit needs to be in good standing, and you also need to demonstrate that you have a way to pay the money back.
Learn About College Search Tools
College search tools can help your son or daughter narrow down their options. However, it’s important they consider more than just the school’s prestige. They also need to think about the school’s location, total cost of tuition, campus culture, and the academic programs the schools offer. Be aware that if the school isn’t recognized by the Dept of Education, they might be able to get financial aid if needed. You will want to look at several different factors when choosing which colleges to apply to, including location, tuition costs, academic programs offered and campus culture.
Make sure that the college is accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S Department of Education, they may not be eligible for federal financial aid if they need it. This search will start the process of developing effective study habits down the line because they will know how to do specific research in a timely manner to reach a goal. Which they will certainly need once classes begin.
It’s important for students to visit the colleges they are thinking about attending. They can get a feel for the campus, ask questions, and meet with admissions counselors. If they have any questions about financial aid or what it’s like to be a student at a college, they can ask the admissions office while on tour. It will also give you an idea if this is the right school for your needs. It’s not uncommon for a school to look good on paper but not be a good match in person. Plan on touring at least two or three top contenders prior before your child applies.
Meg is an author at Cinnamon Hollow. She writes on a variety of topics sharing tips and ideas for daily life.