The spring is exciting for high school seniors but can be terrifying for their parents. Seniors see new beginnings, the chance to be recognized as adults and, of course, the opportunity to go off to college. Parents, however, see all of the expenses tied to this transition and they worry about how they will afford it.
The truth is that few families are ever truly ready for the costs associated with a college education, and we could all stand to save a bit more for what will be one of the largest expenses of our lifetimes. But this late in the game, with only months to go, can any real, meaningful savings take place?
You’d be surprised. There’s still time to find some last-minute funds for college if you apply the tips below and make these next six months your college-saving cram session.
Complete your FAFSA Form
If they haven’t done so yet, your student must complete their Free Application for Federal Student Aid form. Even a form filed this late could still entitle them to potential grants or scholarships. In fact, failure to file this form could cost your student roughly $9,741.05 in aid, according to a study published in Research in Higher Education.
Budget to Save Aggressively
While it’s easy for teens to get caught up in the carefree “last summer before college mentality,” a frugal summer will benefit them when college costs come along. Work with your teen to set a budget for the summer and place that budget on a prepaid card they can use throughout the season. Help them establish savings routes for the rest of their money, and they’ll be able to appreciate the additional revenue when the fall comes around.
Not all scholarships require applications months in advance; in fact, there may still be plenty of aptly named “late-deadline scholarships” available for your student. The Department of Labor’s Scholarship Finder can be an invaluable tool in finding these last-minute financial aid opportunities. Poke around and apply for those you or your student qualify for. It could save you thousands.
Ask your Employer
Many employers offer scholarships or assistance to students or the children of employees that are headed off to college. While this isn’t true of every company, you lose nothing by inquiring about what types of options are available where you work.
The spring is about more than just celebrating your student's graduation from high school; it's about focusing on the future. If that future includes college, make sure you're ready for it financially. Fortunately, you still have time, so research your options and set a savings plan. When fall tuition rolls around, you'll be more ready than you ever thought you'd be.