College Planning Tips: Mom & Dad, Are You Ready to Send Your Kid to College? by Kourtney Perry
The thought of sending a child to college doesn't seem so bad in the early stages of their life. They usually enter 12th grade around 17 or 18 years old. So you think you have plenty of time, right? Yeah, I thought that until senior year rolls around and I had about nine months to get things in order.
My daughter graduated from Hoover High School in Des Moines, Iowa, in 2018. Let me tell you it is the most amazing experience ever! She is currently in her sophomore year attending University of Northern Iowa (UNI). She started out attending Hawkeye Community College while residing on the UNI campus. Here are some tips I learned along the way:
Many universities have ties with the community colleges that allows students to split there degrees in half. That means attending community college to take the majority of their prerequisite classes at a cheaper cost. They will then be able to transfer those credits to the university to finish their four-year degree. Pretty neat, huh? Your child is able to enjoy all the perks that the university has to offer such as student unions, attending all athletic games and being able to take advantage of the university lifestyle.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®)
However, going through the process of getting my daughter to college was quite scary and time consuming. As a single parent, saving was not an easy task for me so I had to look at other options. The federal government provides money to students that fill out the FAFSA® application. The application becomes available October 1 of every year. The earlier you fill it out, the better. Your child could receive a reasonable amount of money to help pay for tuition and other expenses. Filling out the application will also put them in line to receive state money and the option to take student loans.
When filling out the application you will have to list the school that your child would like to attend or has been accepted into. Your child does not need an acceptance letter to put the school on the application. If they desire to go there then list that school on the application. We as parents will need to provide our income as the child will be seen as a dependent. Don’t be scared filling out the application. It is fairly easy with instructions throughout the process. The IRS provides a link to upload your tax information to the application. You will only need some basic information like your filing status and return amount.
Take Advantage of Free Money
On top of savings and federal money there are scholarships that your child can apply for. And let me tell you, there are billions of dollars in free money out there for any child to take advantage of. You can apply for a scholarship for being left-handed, blind, artist, singer, blonde and so much more. Just Google it. Many of them do have limitations such as the area the scholarship is provided, but each one will give you the guidelines up front so that you will know if you are eligible.
Your child can start applying and accepting scholarships in grade school. Yes, I said grade school. The best thing is to make sure you keep track of them. There are no limits as to the amount of scholarships you can apply for. Many of them may require a short essay and a video, but aren’t they already doing those skills in class. Right?!
I encourage any parents to start saving early for their child’s college expenses. With my daughter basically attending two colleges her tuition, room and meal plan for her first year cost around $10,000 for one semester. Now a majority of that money came from FAFSA® and scholarships. So again, apply, apply, apply. Setting up a college fund is the greatest stress reliever, too. Most banks can set your account up or there are college-saving programs out there like College 529 that offers tax breaks.
I hope that this gives you some ideas to start thinking about the future of your child. They are our precious treasures who will one day rule the world.
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