The Many Faces
brown on green, A Regular column about finances
How to Pay for College
College expenses continue to rise.
For the last several years, the costs for
college have gone up faster than the
overall inflation rate. Many families are asking, “Where is the money coming
from to pay for college?”
Here are a few ideas to consider:
Academic Scholarships. If your child will soon enter college, and his grades are not so good, it may be too late to stress the importance of academics. But those who have children in middle school or below can take heart. Instill the importance of good grades in your children early to make college affordable. While grades are important, students should also strive to do well on the ACT and SAT tests. Many times, the scholarships they earn are based on these tests. Consider a prep course or take advantage of available study resources. Students should take tests more than once as scores generally improve with each subsequent test.
Many states offer scholarships to students meeting certain minimum requirements. Some state requirements are not particularly difficult to achieve for any above-average student. For instance, in Tennessee, students must have a 3.0 (out of 4.0) or a B-average GPA and make a 21 (out of 36) on the ACT or 980 (out of 1600) on the SAT. Tennessee pays $4,000 a year for students who meet minimum requirements and $5,000 a year for high-achieving students.
Need-Based Scholarships. Many colleges offer need-based scholarships based on the parent’s ability to pay. Higher income parents will not qualify, but if your income is limited, you may receive some help. Such scholarships vary widely, so you will need to contact the financial aid office at each college under consideration.
Some colleges offer specific scholarships if you meet certain criteria. For instance, at Welch College, pastoral training students, students from a particular state, or children of alumni may qualify for scholarships. Some colleges offer scholarships to children or grandchildren of World War II veterans. Each school has its own specific scholarships, and prospective students should contact the college they are considering to see if they qualify.
Use student loans sparingly and pay them off quickly. Unfortunately, many college graduates accumulate too much debt, and it haunts them for many years. Student loans should not be your first choice. It may be better to spread out college over five or six years to avoid student loans.
Funding your children’s college education may be a challenge, but hopefully, implementing these ideas will help make it possible.
David Brown, CPA, became director of the Free Will Baptist Foundation in 2007. Send your questions to David at email@example.com. To learn how the Foundation can help you become a more effective giver, call 877-336-7575.