I could teach a two day seminar on this topic alone. It’s what every parent wants to know! So I’m going to break this down and make it very simple. Consider this the beginning of your journey. You have to make some critical decisions right here and right now before you can go any further. Once you’ve decided the path you will take then you can zero in on how to pay for college and specifically how to find the resources that are there for you.
How Much Work Are You Willing To Do?
First and foremost, how much work are you and your student wiling to do? You have to answer this question. As a parent you need to make an assessment of the situation. Are you willing to put in more effort than your child? Or is it the other way around? The honest truth is that finding cash for college is directly tied to the amount of effort you put into getting those resources. More effort means more free tuition, plain and simple. I want to help you lay out a step by step plan so you know what to do first, second, third and so on. I also want to give you actionable items you can implement that are directly tied to getting money for college expenses and strategies to help reduce your college costs. But if you don’t do what needs to be done your results will not be great. So you should decide now whether you and your child are willing to do whatever it takes, want to do the least possible or are somewhere in between. It’s very important that you decide this upfront.
Which Direction Will You Take?
Second, how do you want to tackle the problem of paying for college? There is not an unlimited amount of ways to approach this. There are basically only two ways to go at it. One way is to just decide, up front, how much you are going to pay for college each year. So how do you decide what you can afford each year? You first look at what your resources are. You could only pay for college out of four resources. Those would be payments from your:
- Cash flow
- Loans (parent and/or student loans) and
- Gifts from an outside source (grand parents for example), or a
- Combination of the four.
You would then look for colleges that fit your payment strategy. How much you are wiling to pay each year will lead you to those colleges that you can afford. Listen! If you don’t think this through from the start this will be your strategy. The reality is that it will likely include more loans than you wanted and a college which cost much more than you wanted.
The other way is to develop a plan. It could be any plan but just some course of action that puts you in a position to get cash for college costs. If you decide to take this route then you have lots of options. The problem you will have is getting the knowledge, finding the information. You know that you only have a limited amount of time so you and your student need to take the type of action that gives you the biggest bang for your efforts. You don’t have time for trial and error. Putting a strategy in place is much better than having no plan at all. This falls under the do whatever it takes category.
Honest moment number two. If you are the do the least possible type then you haven’t read this far and are not likely to take the time and energy to go through the resources I’m providing. You are also likely to only do what needs to be done at crunch time and figure out how you will pay the college bill. But if you are still reading I’m guessing that you are in the do whatever it takes camp. You have decided that you are going to develop some type of strategy. To what extent you may not be sure at this point. But that’s ok.
What do you do right now, this very moment? The first thing you need to do, action step number one, is just relax for a second and understand that you will not be able to do everything. There’s too much you can do and not enough time. Next, you will need to take a bird’s eye view of the process. Don’t focus on any specifics at first. Take some time to absorb what needs to be done. By doing this priorities will emerge. You will start to see the important things that need to done during the financial aid process. You will also get clarity on the things you can do to help your own particular situation.
Once you have a grasp on the process then use the resources here. I’m committed to helping parents like you who have college bound students. You have a big job ahead of you and I’m confident you can do what it takes. I say that because I’ve seen many parents and students do what it takes and achieve great results. Let me know how I can help you and good luck!
What’s your greatest challenge when it comes to finding money for college? Let me know in the comments section or on my Facebook Page!