If you have a child you’re probably wondering where the money for college will come from. The most important step is to begin saving money for your child’s education when they are born. In Maine, the Alfond Foundation will start you off with $500 if you take the time to apply. Add this to a regular savings plan and you’re well on you way!
But, what if you didn’t start when they were born? Your child is now in middle school, what do you do? Start saving today, it’s better late than never! Figure out what you can afford to set aside from each paycheck and stick with it. This will allow you to build up some funds by the time your child finishes high school. There are also 529 Plans which can be an attractive option. 529 Plans are education savings plans operated by a state or educational institution.
“I can’t afford to save money” is a common reply heard from many parents. Have you looked carefully at where your paycheck goes? Maybe you swing through Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks regularly – how much can you save there? Try to cut back on dinners out and other entertainment expenses. I know, it’s hard but sometimes it’s hard to do the right thing. Getting in the saving habit early and staying with it are the keys.
As high school graduation approaches, your child will have the opportunity to find money in a number of additional places. Have them check with the High School Guidance Office to find out about scholarships at their school. Check online too, there are some really obscure scholarships out there, but you have to go find them. A couple of good websites to look at are www.studentaid.ed.gov and www.bigfuture.college.org/pay-for-college. Of course, most schools offer grants and work study to a great number of their students. As they begin to move through the college application process they can also find out what aid is available from the schools under their consideration. An important thing to keep in mind is that in some cases a more expensive school may offer more aid, meaning the net cost to the family could be lower than that of a public or state school. So, again, keep an open mind and start saving today!