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GUEST COLUMN

6 Ways to Help Your Student Save for College

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Nancy Dunkel.jpg

Nancy Dunkel

Chances are, you and your student will rely on multiple sources of funding for a college education. Common funding sources are your own savings and earnings, your student’s savings and earnings, scholarships and loans. 

Make a resolution to reduce the amount of future student loans with these tips.

1. Estimate how much your student will need.

Your student’s choice of institution and type of education will greatly influence the total cost. You can start by helping your student determine an educational path suited for their potential career interests. Then, explore websites of in-state and out-of-state public and private colleges, community colleges or other training programs for current costs. 

Check out the Resources for College Planning article for high school students at www.IowaStudentLoan.org/Plan to access online tools that can help narrow options and plan for expenses. Free online calculators are also available to help you compare estimated college expenses for the year your student will enter college.

2. Encourage savings by your own example.

Foster an environment of saving by looking for discounts, reducing expenses and comparison shopping for everyday purchases. Discuss with your student how you spend less so you can save more for retirement, education and large purchases.

3. Work with your student on reducing expenses.

If your student quickly spends a large proportion of their earnings, gifts and savings, help set savings goals, come up with less-expensive alternatives and bargain shop. Gently used items may be available for a fraction of the cost of new ones. Delaying the purchase of the newest models can also reduce costs.

4. Explore interest-bearing accounts.

Leverage savings by depositing into interest-bearing accounts. Spend some time researching options and discussing the risks and advantages of different account types with your student. You may wish to make an appointment for yourself and your student with a specialist at your financial institution or an independent financial adviser to fully explore your options.

5. Understand how to reduce college costs.

If you realize you and your student will not be able to save a significant portion of the total cost of a planned education by high school graduation, consider how to reduce the overall cost. Your student may choose to live at home to attend an institution within commuting distance, attend a less-expensive school for some or all of the required coursework, earn while learning with a skilled apprenticeship program, or work more before or during attendance.

The Resources for College Planning article for high school students at www.IowaStudentLoan.org/Plan is a good place to begin exploring available tools on how to reduce college expenses.

6. Monitor progress regularly.

Periodically check your and your student’s progress toward the financial goals you’ve set together. It’s also a good idea to investigate the expected costs now and then to better understand how estimated costs may change. You may consider matching contributions toward savings or rewarding your student financially for earning a large scholarship.

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