Any advice for parents on paying for college?

College Admissions

Our counselors answered:

Any advice for parents on paying for college?

Nina Berler
Founder unCommon Apps

Any advice for parents on paying for college?

The strongest advice I have for parents - and I am a parent who presently has a child in college - is to try to save from the very beginning. When my son was born, we had a financial adviser who helped us project the cost of college so that we would be able to save an adequate amount over time. That is particularly important with the lack of a middle class in our society today. Many parents would like to see their children awarded aid of some sort, but that doesn't always happen. Outside of tuition, if it's possible for one parent to work to help pay for tuition or incidentals, that's important as well. I have a transfer capability online between my account and my son's to help him manage his expenses (rather than giving him a set amount).

Cynthia Ferguson
Independent Educational Consultant In2College

When to apply to for aid

Every family should apply for financial aid using the FAFSA even though they think they may not qualify. Many colleges and universities use the information from the FAFSA to award institutional aid as well as federal and state aid. Do this as soon as possible after January 1st of your senior year as soon as you have the previous year's tax returns completed.

Tam Warner Minton
Consultant College Adventures

Paying for College

SUBMIT A FAFSA. Many parents tell me that they are not eligible for financial aid when they are eligible. Remember: private colleges and universities give much more aid than publics, and the estimated family contribution from the FAFSA has a much higher salary cut off. Especially in this economy? Absolutely apply for financial aid. A college education is expensive, and costs are going up. Figuring out how you will come up with the necessary funds to pay for college requires planning, perseverance, and researching the options. If your family has not saved the total amount you will need for college or does not earn enough to pay for it, you can still attend college–even the college of your choice. That’s what financial aid is all about. For more information about the FAFSA:

Francine Schwartz
Founder/ President Pathfinder Counseling LLC

Taking the sting out of paying for college.

A general rule of thumb is the rule of thirds. One third of college costs should come from current income, one third from savings and one third from financial aid such a s grants, scholarships, work-study and loans. Always have a financial safety school. This is generally a state school. Don't discount the idea of having your student spend two years at a local community college. They are much more affordable and most have transfer arrangements with state colleges and universities. Your student's degree will be from the university and you may have saved yourself a boat load of money during the first two years, where most students are taking basic courses no matter where they are at. Francine Schwartz, M.A., LPC, NCC Founder and President Pathfinder Counseling LLC

Dr. Skarlis
Owner/President The College Advisor of New York

Advice for parents for paying for college

Save as much as you can even if you have a high school senior. Take advantage of your state's 529 plan because there can be in-state tax deductions for contributing money to the plan. In general, it is cheaper to save than to borrow. In addition, ask your student's college if they have a no-fee payment plan which will allow you to pay by the month.

王文君 June Scortino
President IVY Counselors Network

get a plan, know your deadlines

Parents should get themselves ready for financial aid no matter what. they lose aid qualification if not filed on time and they must file tax return ASAP to renew each year. dont use home equity, withdraw stocks before the deadline for college bills. have a plan to pay for four years and know which assets to use two years ahead of the application deadline.

Laura O'Brien Gatzionis
Founder Educational Advisory Services

College Costs

First of all, bring your son or daughter into the conversation about financing college. Set realistic expectations. Understand that many private colleges may be able to provide need-based or merit-based scholarships and that it is worth it to apply to both public and private schools. Make sure that a "financial safety" is included on the final college list. When the acceptances have arrived, carefully analyze the financial aid packages and compare and contrast the various types of aid offered. Do not take out private loans without carefully considering the terms of repayment.

Reena Gold Kamins
Founder College, Career & Life, LLC.

File your tax returns as early as possible!

Many parents wait until April to file their income tax returns. But, information from the tax returns is needed to complete the FAFSA and CSS Profile forms. While you can complete the forms with estimated information, it will delay the process. Colleges also request copies of your tax returns, usually by March. Missing deadlines may mean there's no more aid at that school. Get your taxes done as early as you can so that you can get the financial aid process started. Getting actual, as opposed to, financial aid numbers sooner rather than later will allow you to plan better.

Trevor Creeden
Director of College and Career Counseling Delaware County Christian School

Any advice for parents on paying for college?

1) Save early! 2) Take advantage of your child applying to colleges that they are overqualified for. These colleges are more likely to offer a lot more merit based aid and scholarships. 3) A lot of merit based aid is based on the SAT/ACT scores so preparing your child the best you can to take these tests would be helpful. 4) You never really pay the sticker price. A college that has a tution cost of $40,000 rarely ever has students pay the whole thing. These colleges are more likely than most to offer a lot of merit based aid. 5) Fill the FAFSA and any other financial forms correctly. A lot of people make errors on the FAFSA especially and this makes their EFC (expected family contribution) go way up. Make sure you find out how to fill it out correctly before you do. 6) Don't take out more than $8,000 in loans a year. The most anyone should have to pay back after college is $32,000. A good rule of thumb is that the starting salary one gets right out of college should be higher than the total number of loans they have to pay back. 7) Don't go to that dream school that you would pay any amount of money to go to because there a number of colleges just like it but cheaper

Shelley Krause
Co-Director of College Counseling Rutgers Preparatory School

Any advice for parents on paying for college?

Start planning early, and put some time in "learning the landscape." Don't assume that the "pricetag" of a school will end up being what you actually pay. If the whole family visits a college campus, deputize one adult to take a trip over to the financial aid office. Ask lots of questions, take notes, stay in touch with the people who seemed particularly helpful, and have a family conversation about how much college-related debt makes sense, given the particulars of your situation.