Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Where did the time go?! Short-term strategies to fund college.

Those 18 years flew by, and perhaps you had the great intentions but just didn’t quite get enough money saved to cover your student’s tuition. Lost some bucks on the stock market? Maybe having to sit in one more parent-teacher conference, regarding Johnny’s motivation to turn assignments in drove you to the breaking point and your nerves needed that vacation to Cancun. Regardless of the situation, life happens, even with the best laid plans. Here are some tips for saving college tuition, when shipping your darling off to the dorms is just around the corner.

Be careful with UGMA and UTMA (Uniform Gift to Minors Act and Uniform Transfers to Money Act). Joseph Hurley, founder of savingforcollege.com, warns that these accounts weigh heavily when qualifying for financial aid. Before filling out FASFA forms, transfer these accounts to 529’s.

Urge your student to sign up to be a Resident Assistant: Free board and meals.

529 Plans are not strictly for long term use. Check out the different plans and benefits to short term use.

Search for and apply to scholarships early. If you search the internet you will come across scholarships for merely being left-handed. Kid you not. Have your student search scholarships for up to a year in advance. If your student lacks motivation, you can find the scholarships for them and start an ongoing file that they can gradually work on throughout senior year. Also, study up for the ACT’s and SAT’s to get a little extra scholarship money.

Get used college books. Again, there are tons of websites out there, including Amazon.com where you can buy the book for a fraction of the cost. If you have to buy a couple new, these sites will also give you cash to buy books back when the class has been completed.

Have your student apply for an Independent Study where they can get a job on campus. Put the application in early, because many students put in and there are limited positions. It saves job hunting, job is conveniently located on campus for those who don’t take a vehicle to college, and some of the jobs are pretty laid back allowing for schoolwork to be done on the clock when things are slow.

Research loan forgiveness and repayment programs. Loans are actually wiped out after college or so many years in the profession. Read carefully to make sure the stipulations are followed. There are programs in education, health, law, and volunteer programs such as Peace Corps and AmeriCorps.

If your student is able to handle it, have them take some college courses as dual enrollment during high school. They will have college credits racked up before they even graduate high school, making for a nice chunk of cash saved.

How are you helping your child prepare for the financial side of college life? Share your story with our readers. Did you know FreshmanFund.com can help you add just a little bit more to your college fund? It's never too late to save towards less student loan debt!


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