Paying for College

The average tuition and fees for private colleges in 2015-2016 is $32,599 a year. Paying for college is a process that should be planned out early, building and using a collection of savings, institutional aid, grants and gifts – and if necessary – loans. Here are some steps to help you get started.
 
  1. Apply for financial aid. Even if you don’t think you qualify, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. You may be surprised with the outcome.
  2. Apply for national grants. Pell Grants, Academic Competitiveness and National SMART Grants. The guidance department at your child’s school can help.
  3. Apply for local scholarships. Many civic organizations have aid to give out that most students never even apply for.
  4. Send out many college applications. Applying to more schools, means a better chance of getting into one and a higher likelihood of receiving a financial aid package. And if you get more offers, you may be able to negotiate a better deal for your top school.
  5. Service commitment. Many service organizations like the Peace Corp or ROTC offer college money in exchange for a service commitment after graduation.
  6. Look into schools abroad. Many are less expensive then private US colleges and universities.
  7. Stay local initially. Start your education at a low-cost community college and transfer to a four-year college for the final two years. This will save tuition and room and board for the first two years while living at home.
  8. Explore tax options. American Opportunity Tax and Lifetime Learning Credits are two tax options for tax savings while in school.
  9. Explore federal options. If loans are needed, look in to federal options, such as Stafford and Perkins loans first. These are cheaper and have more flexible repayment options.
  10. Invest in a 529 plan. If you have some time before college, a 529 savings plan is an attractive way to save. A 529 plan allows users to select from a variety of funds in which to invest, including real estate and money market accounts. In CT, parents with a 529 plan qualify for an income tax deduction or credit on contributions.
One of the most important reasons to earn a college degree is to increase your earning potential. If you obtain a college degree, you’re more likely to earn more throughout your career and you’ll be more marketable to a greater range of career options.
 

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