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10 Tips on Planning for College
College planning was not really something that I did. To be honest, I wasn't always the greatest student so I was never entirely sure that I was going to go to college. However, I did and even went all the way through to get my MBA. I went through a lot of schooling and I would have done much better had I done a little planning first.
I had a great college adviser who did tell me to make certain to set money aside for fees and other expenses which ended up being some pretty good advice.
Now as the mother of three children (ages 11 and under) college planning is something that is top of mind for both my husband and myself. We do what we can and here are a few of the tips that we follow when it comes to planning for college:
1. Start a 529 Plan and/or Coverdell account.
I started a 529 plan as soon as each child was born and while the amount we put in them may be small now, the money does continue to grow and I hope make larger contributions in the future. We are planning to open Coverdell accounts for each child this year as well.
2. Use Upromise to save money for college.
I am the absolute biggest fan of Upromise and I use it constantly because I shop a lot online. Upromise gives you an amount or percentage back when you shop through any of the merchants listed on their site. While not every place I shop at is listed, the majority and since I signed up about 10 years ago, I have put thousands of dollars into the college accounts of my children.
3. Research Federal and State aid programs.
There are lots of ways that your child can get aid for college. The United States Department of Education offers the FAFSA which is a free application for student aid that any student can fill out.
In the state of Georgia where we live, students can apply for Georgia's HOPE Program which provides assistance to students to help pay for college.
4. Check out Educational savings bonds.
This is something new that we have been considering. Educational savings bonds offer certain tax benefits and can really help with those expenses.
5. Research school and private scholarships.
Many schools have scholarships that available only at that school and these are usually on the school's website. Many companies also offer scholarships based on various criteria. Do your research and find out what your child is eligible for. There are even sites that help you build your own college scholarships.
6. Find a college that fits your child and learn all about it.
My son wants to be a veterinarian right now. He has wanted to be one for years and when he talks about college, he mentions staying in state so we have done our research about colleges in Georgia that have veterinary schools.
7. Determine approximate college costs.
There are many calculators available online to help you determine future college costs. We like this college calculator from MSN Money.
8. Determine the courses you need to take in high school to head into your chosen field.
This is a big deal here. If you plan to practice medicine, go into law or enter a number of fields, there are many classes in high school that your child can take which will put them at an advantage. Meet with your child's counselor the first week or so of school to make certain that they are headed down the right path.
9. Encourage your child to participate get involved in their community and extracurricular activities.
Colleges like well rounded applicants and those who are well rounded have participated in extracurricular activities in high school plus other community activities. Our children have been volunteering at the local food bank since they were five years old. They also participate in other community activities.
10. Visit the State Farm College Learning Center.
College is so much more than tuition. You'll need to allow for fees, books, transportation, boarding and personal expenses plus a host of other things that may pop up. The State Farm College Learning Center has got you covered for all of that and more.
State Farm has your back no matter what stage of life you are in and they can help you plan. Because we have had help and I have done a lot of research, I am much more confident that my children will be better prepared for college and this makes me feel great!
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Compensation was provided by State Farm via Mode Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of State Farm.