It’s recommended to start early so your children will be ready.

It can be overwhelming for parents to financially plan for college, especially when they have to pay for their child’s education. The first step you should make is to be honest with your children so that they will understand your limitations and will be more committed.

You can start saving early by opening a 529 savings account; not all states have them even though it’s a great way to save money for college. You can talk to other family members so they would contribute to your child’s account making deposits for holidays and birthdays instead of buying clothes and toys. Most grandparents don’t mind saving for their grandchildren’s college education, so always ask.

Planning for college

Encourage Honest Conversations

You children should understand that college is expensive and that’s why you need to save for it early. They should understand why you want them to save checks they get from family and friends in a college account. When they’re old enough to understand costs of things, you should encourage an honest conversation about your ability to pay for college education.

When your child enters high school, talk about your financial abilities and all possible options – living far from home/living at home, in-state/private college, etc. Then, discuss all the expenses college will bring.

What If You Don’t Have Enough For College?

If you need additional money, there are plenty of options to consider. For example, there are different scholarships available, from those based on academic merit to left-handers. Your child should understand that researching for scholarships should be her regular activity in high school’s years.

There are also government grants such as Pell grants for people in need. Depending on your income, you might be qualified for them. Take time to learn more about them, there are over a hundred grants and most of them don’t need repayment.

There are many companies that can pay for college for their employees and their children. If your child needs a part-time job, there are plenty of companies to work for, such as UPS, McDonald’s, Starbuck’s, Ann Taylor and more. Ask your employer whether there are benefits you can use for paying for college.

Some families qualify for financial aid. However, an application process can be tricky and several errors can throw off the entire process, so make sure you have a qualified person who will guide you through it and make sure everything is correct.

Planning for college

Student Loans

Student loans can help a child pay for college, but they can also be a burden on parents and students. You should consider all the options before spending lots of money on college that is financially out of reach. Sometimes, it’s worth years of payment and sometimes it doesn’t.

There are two types of loans – private student loans that you can get in a bank or other financial institutions and federal student loans that come with a FAFSA award. Always use the student loan calculator before applying for a loan to know how much it will cost you, with interests and fees.

Paying for college isn’t easy, so make sure your children understand your financial situation and their opportunities.