There’s no way around it: college is expensive, more so than ever. Even though the cost of college may actually be more affordable than you think, there are still mistakes to avoid while paying college fees. Tuition, room and board, textbooks, and other cost of living expenses must be taken into consideration while making a plan to cover costs. Here are six tuition and loan mistakes parents should avoid while helping their child through college.
Not saving early enough
It’s never too early to start saving. Even before you have kids it doesn’t hurt to set aside some money and start up a college savings fund. Many parents don’t worry about saving up for higher education until their child is halfway there, and then find themselves short on both funds and time. Do yourself and your kids a favor and start saving as early as possible.
Depending entirely on scholarships
Scholarships are a fantastic way to pay for college, but they shouldn’t be the only way you consider. Expecting a full-ride for your student–even if they have stellar grades or athletic skills–is a recipe for disaster. If they do get one–congratulations! If not, you better have a backup plan. Or several.
Not filling out the FAFSA
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is a great way for students to discover and earn federal student aid. The FAFSA is an invaluable tool for any college-bound student, regardless of financial situation. Even if you don’t think you’ll get much money out of it, still file the FAFSA–you might just be surprised at what financial aid you can qualify for.
Not doing enough loan research
It makes sense that the journey to college would require quite a bit of research on the front end. While many think the bulk of that research might come from comparing different colleges, (which College Raptor can make much easier), an equal amount of research should go into looking at loan options. Rushing in and grabbing the first deal you see could lead to headaches and empty wallets down the road. Don’t make these costly tuition and loan mistakes. Read the fine print and compare different options before deciding on one.
Taking out private loans before looking at federal loan options
Piggy-backing off of the research point is this helpful tip: try to avoid taking out a private loan. Some 54% of college students take out private loans, and some of them don’t even consider federal ones. The thing is, private loans typically have fewer protection programs for students. Federal loans might allow you to adjust payment plans after you graduate depending on your job situation, while private loans can refuse to change and lock you into a bad situation.
Cosigning on student loans
While it might be tempting to cosign your student’s loans in favor of potentially lower interest rates, but if worse comes to worse and you’re unable to cover the cost after your student graduates and can’t cover the cost, you’re both in debt. A great way to avoid this problem altogether is by looking at federal loans instead of private, since federal loans don’t typically ask for a cosigner at all.
Another great way to look for financial aid opportunities is by using College Raptor’s free match tool. With it, students (and their parents) can discover potential financial aid opportunities that schools around the country will offer.