Paying for College
Saving for college can have a very different meaning depending on the current age of your future student. No matter where you are, this guide to planning for college provides information you should be aware of:
The Early Years
From the time you are expecting through the first years of elementary school, college may seem many years away. Time passes quickly though, and college costs are increasing an average of 5 percent annually. Here are some things you should know:
- Advanced planning is important. Know what the cost of a college education will be when your student starts college. According to the CollegeBoard®, in 2033, the four-year tuition for a private school will be upwards of $300,000. The cost for a public, in-state school will be approximately $95,000 or more. These figures are for tuition and do not include other expenses like books or housing.
- At this point, your savings options can include a basic savings accounts, investment accounts, US Savings Bonds, Coverdell education savings accounts or the popular Section 529 college savings programs. Most states offer a 529 college savings program with tax advantages. You can deposit money directly into a 529 plan, and it doesn't necessarily have to be your own state’s plan.
The Pre-Teen Years
If you've already begun saving, now is the time to ensure your plan is still on track to meet rising tuition costs. If you haven't begun saving, it isn’t too late to start. Even if you can’t save enough to cover tuition at this point, any amount can help offset the need for loans.
- Now is a good time to impress upon your student the importance of good grades, community service and extracurricular involvement. All will be important when it comes time to apply for scholarships and other forms of financial aid.
- With family expenses, this can be a difficult time to save, but even small amounts can add up. Check out our Budgeting and Saving Money sections for tips on ways to reduce expenses and save more.
The High School Years
Hopefully, at this point, you are well on your way to saving for college. If so, continue to re-evaluate your savings plan regularly and make any adjustments. Your student can also contribute through summer or part-time jobs. If it appears your savings will fall short or you have not begun to save, there are numerous funding options you should be aware of, including financial aid and scholarships.
Financial aid for college students is available through four resources: the Federal government, state government, colleges and universities, and private organizations. To qualify for many types of aid, you should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at www.fafsa.gov in the second semester of senior year and annually thereafter. The deadline for submitting the FAFSA can vary, so it is best to submit it early in the year, as most federal and state aid is limited and awarded on a first come, first served basis.
The FAFSA gives you access to these types of financial aid:
- Grants – money you won’t have to pay back
- Work-study jobs - paid, part-time work on campus
- Government loans – money you will have to pay back
- Scholarships – some colleges and organizations use the FAFSA for scholarships, so it’s important to complete even if your family won’t qualify for government aid
In addition to completing the FAFSA, you should separately apply for:
- Financial aid at the colleges you are applying to
- Private scholarships through community organizations and businesses.
- Private loans are another option if your college savings will fall short. Old National offers the Smart Option Student Loan®by Sallie Mae®.