We can all agree the pathway to education after high school can be expensive. One of the most significant financial investments an individual and family will make in their lifetime. Right behind purchasing our first home, saving for retirement, and raising a family. I know; I am the parent of four. The number #1 question I am asked is, can a student or family finance this critical life-changing event?

The answer is all about individualized, realistic goals and planning. Best for your student and family now and in the future. It is about expectations based on your student’s authentic academic and personal profile and the family’s financial capabilities. My dad, an educator, teacher, and early architect of the federal financial aid program of the ’70s, is still chirping in my ear, “Education is a lifelong exercise.” We forget to coach our kids as such, and as parents, we think poorly of our parental skills if we are not keeping up with what we hear in the grocery line or read on social media. Here are eleven of my favorite parent secrets.

Before We Leave High School

  • Secret #1 – Colleges and universities lose up to 20% of first-year students; many do not graduate due to readiness and ability to pay. If your student does not want to go to college or needs more time, it is best to hit the pause button and start when ready.
  • Secret #2 – If going in that direction, know how you will pay before starting the search process. Yes, it will be a rough estimate, but we do not buy our first home, a car, or even a new sofa until we have some concept of the cost. Getting in but not being able to pay can be a financial risk. Learn your family’s financial obligation early and always apply for financial aid.
  • Secret # 3 – It is not always about our financial resources, money in the bank, income, or even eligibility for financial aid. If a four-year traditional undergraduate degree is the path ahead, let us ensure it is at the right school, for the right reason, and at the right investment. There are over 4,000 colleges and universities in the US and Canada, 250 in New England alone, which means there is a dream school for every student—search based on your student’s authentic GPA, not prestige.
  • Secret #4 – pursuing a skilled professional career in the trades, financial services, retail, or hospitality industry can offer personal and financial fulfillment. Many require apprenticeships, OJT, or an associate’s degree to enter and should not be overlooked for the right individual.

While We’re Enrolled

  • Secret #5 – ask for more tuition assistance through scholarships and need-based financial aid. If the college a student attends loses one student after the first year, they may get a transfer student but could have an empty seat for three years. That is lost revenue. They can’t afford to lose another!
  • Secret #6 – keep searching for scholarships. Most students and families do not invest enough time and energy searching before the 1st year, never mind after enrollment. If you read the eligibility criteria for most private external scholarships, they are available to “high school seniors, enrolling AND returning sophomore, juniors, and seniors.” Keep searching and applying.
  • Secret #7 – start lining up internships, paid part-time research, and coop positions (work while enrolled) at the end of the sophomore year of college. Opportunities can turn into offers for employment before graduation and valuable resources while enrolled.
  • Secret #8 – graduate on time. It is too expensive to remain in college beyond your anticipated grad date: two years for community college and four years for traditional.

After College

  • Secret # 9 – if you have private education loans, pay them down aggressively. Interest rates are generally higher than the Federal Direct Student Loans, and they carry limited repayment benefits. Refinance them if you need to and can.
  • Secret # 10 – take advantage of all benefits offered through the Federal Direct Student Loan Program, including income-driven repayment terms and public services loan forgiveness.
  • Secret # 11 asks your employer for help with loan repayment obligations. Recent changes allow employers to use traditional employee tuition reimbursement benefits to help pay down educational loans. Inquire with HR.

For more information on the contents of this article, questions or inquiries to support your students and family, contact us to schedule a conversation.- 617-240-7350 or www.getcollegegoing.com.