Tips for Parents on How to Get Help Paying for College

How much will you need to help your kid through college by the time they graduate high school?  During this summer, I've been asked quite frequently from friends and attendees to our workshops on how to plan for college, especially in tough times.  It prompted me to dig into my video archives for a segment I did on WGN Morning News of getting cash for college.

Here are a few tips included within this video:

Newborns today will need $180,000 for their college education – Can you say abstinence during marriage anyone?  Didn’t think so. Even more the reason to discuss college planning alongside your own financial plan, hand in hand.  As we all know, time FLIES by.  Before you know it, your kid is a senior in high school.  By then, you’re way behind the power curve in getting your ducks in a row with college applications, financial aid offices and grants that can save you tons o’ cash!

529 College Savings Plans aren’t the only way to save for college -  They are just one of the best marketed in the media and mainstream.  But there are many ways to save for college.  Money for college comes from three main areas – the federal/state government, colleges themselves and of course, your own pocket.  Financial vehicles such as Roth IRAs, cash value life insurance and annuities are viewed differently by colleges than money left in bank CDs, non-retirement plan brokerage accounts and equity within real estate investments.  In other words having your money in the wrong financial vehicle and improperly titled can increase your expected family contribution (EFC) forcing you to dig deeper for Sonny’s college education.  Positioning and titling your financial assets properly can save you from shelling out more money, heartache from being limited to very few choices for higher education and unnecessary risk from a down economy.  Speaking with a financial professional that can do more than just provide investments, versus proactive college financial strategies, would be key.

Negotiate Your Financial Aid Offer – “Less than 10% of families actually appeal and negotiate the financial aid that is awarded them,” says John Belles of College Funding Solutions, the nation’s most recognized college planning service.  That means 90% of all families don’t even realize this can be done but lose out on additional cash-for-college opportunities had they not asked.

I hope this helps you create added awareness and better questions to ask when beginning the college planning process.  It always helps to start early.

If your kid is a high school senior, I hope you get on the ball ASAP as the line opens to help pay for college by submitting your FASFA form at the beginning of the year, 2013.

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