With college acceptances finally all in-hand, it’s time to figure out which of these schools your family can afford.
For the majority of American families, paying for college is no easy task. I don’t consider myself an expert on how to handle college tuition bills, but my key piece of advice is take as few loans as possible, that applies to both students and parents. Keep that borrowing amount to a minimum. Rule of thumb: Students should borrow, in total, no more than their expected first year salary.
Financial aid packages Each family’s situation is unique, so there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to paying the college tuition bill. Financial aid packages are just as unique, with some schools offering scholarships and grants, and others only loans, even though they’re all working from the same FAFSA report for your family.
Take a look at my post on understanding financial packages to grasp what’s really being offered.
Keep in mind that you or your student can call a college’s financial aid office and ask for a larger grant or scholarship. Be polite and explain your financial situation, as well as why this college is at the top of your child’s list. I’ve known families who received extra tuition assistance by making this call.
Advice from the experts A few recent articles and blog posts address some of the most important issues facing parents as they struggle to figure out how to approach college costs.
In a Wall Street Journal article, Rachel Louise Ensign breaks down the facts about PLUS loans (also known as parent loans) and presents cheaper options to borrowing for college.
The New York Times’ “The Choice” blog ran a five-part series on paying for college in which Laura Perna, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a researcher in college affordability, answered reader questions on this important topic. Read all five parts to find the information you’re looking for.
Do you have advice for parents on paying for college? Share it in the comments section below.