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5 Tips For Financing College

Aug 17, 2007
Current trends predict college tuition will continue to increasing at a rate twice that of inflation. A 2006 College Board report announced that tuition has risen 35% in the last five years. As a result, parents continue to worry about higher education expenses. How can future college students and their parents prepare for this imminent expense?

1. Calculate. Many tools are available to help parents plan for future costs. The College Cost Projector that is available from FinAid.org allows one to project future college tuition costs based on inflation rates and years of matriculation.

Other calculators, like the Tuition Savings Calculator from MSN Money.com, take into consideration variables like such as current funds, rate of returns, taxes, and college costs and help one to deduce the annual savings payment required.

2. Save! Once you have projected future tuition costs, begin saving small amounts along the way. One easy way is to take advantage of credit card offers such as the one described by College Money Guru Joseph Hurley from Bankrate.com.

Some credit card companies may offer the opportunity to start a 529 plan, a plan in which rebates are incurred for each purchase made on the card. These rebates will be put into the 529 fund to pay for future college education. However, this strategy only works if the credit card bill is paid every month, otherwise interest will out shine rebates.

3. Apply for scholarships. Thousands of scholarships are available and found easily through schools, service organizations and online. Fastweb.com remains one of the most popular scholarships sites, offering ways to narrow down searches to only the scholarships each specific college student needs. Scholarships can be given on a semester, year, two-year or four-year basis and vary in amounts.

Students should start searching for scholarships early and apply for as many as possible. The more scholarships the student applies for, the higher chance there is to receive a scholarship.

4. Apply for grants. Grants may also be used to fund education, although in smaller amounts than most scholarships. However, grants do not require as rigorous an application process as scholarships and are given out more freely. Many different types of grants exist including federal, state, minority, gender and low income.

One great way to search out grants is online through sites such as CollegeScholarships.org or by searching your state's website for college grants.

5. Loans. Even with utilizing all the factors for financing a college education, there may still be a small gap that needs to be filled by loans. Just as scholarships and grants vary, so do too the types of loans. Federal student loans allow for the student to eventually pay off the loan after graduation.

The College Board (collegeboard.com) offers such a loan and allows for payment to be deferred until six months after graduation. A cosigner is required for this loan, but the cosigner may be dropped after a certain number of on-time payments from the student.

Parent loans, such as the federal PLUS loan (as described by finaid.org), have fixed interest rates and are not subsidized while the child is still in school. Loans such as the PLUS are fairly easy to acquire as only a modest credit check is required.

Finally, private loans may be taken out by the student and are often used to supplement federal loans. If students do not meet the credit requirements to obtain private loans, they may still be able to do so if their cosigner meets such requirements.

Even with the rising cost of tuition, college education is still possible through the utilization of these 5 easy tips. When used together, calculating, saving, scholarships, grants and loans will make your college student's dreams happen.
About the Author
Charlotte Buelow is a contributing business writer for Goliath. Goliath is one of the Internet's largest collections of business research, news and information. Learn more about Goliath .
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