August 2018
5 Things We Wish We Had Known from FAME's Education Team
What advice do you give students and families that are about to enter the post-secondary education journey? Many of us at FAME have children who are in college or have recently graduated, in addition to a few FAME team members who are recent graduates. Here are some of our, "What do you wish you had known before going to or sending your child to college?" thoughts that we hope you'll find helpful:
1. Mary Dyer, Financial Education Officer and Eva Giles, College Savings Program Manager
Both moms had saving on top of their list. Mary shared, "As the mom of a recent high school graduate who is now headed off to college, I think my biggest regret is that I didn't start saving for college earlier. I started saving when my son was in middle school, while every dollar saved has made college a reality for him, and reduced our need to borrow student loans, I wish that I had converted my monthly daycare expenses to college savings when he began kindergarten. It's never too late to start saving, but having time on your side certainly helps!"

Eva agreed adding, "Saving for college is like any other healthy habit; it has to be a priority. Start early; begin small and build. When times get tough you can always modify but don't give up. Every dollar saved has made a difference for us."
2. Mila Tappan, College Access and Outreach Manager
I wish we'd let go of the worry senior year about selecting the wrong college. School selection isn't necessarily a one shot deal, and for most students, there are multiple pathways that can lead to success. Our oldest son wanted to go to school in Boston, but we decided that none of his options were going to work financially. Instead, we agreed he'd attend a more affordable school his first year and then review his options. During that year, he focused like never before and excelled. As a result, he was able to transfer his sophomore year to his top school, where he had initially been wait listed. The transfer school's financial aid offer was very good, making it both affordable and a good fit academically. It all worked out and I'm so glad that we didn't overpay that first year. I just wish we'd relaxed more senior year and worried less!
3. Jennifer Lanphear, Education Programs Officer
Summer internships were important to our sons’ educational experiences and gave them great hands-on opportunities to apply what they were learning in the classroom. Both our sons attended out of state schools. They found that Maine employers formed relationships with schools located nearby. It was easier for them to learn about internships closer to their schools in Massachusetts so they had to work harder to find internships in Maine. Fortunately they were able to secure summer positions in Maine which helped them build a professional network while saving money by living at home. If both summer internships and living at home during the summer are important to a student, he or she may want to give added weight to location when selecting a school.
4. Floreka Malual, College Planning Advisor
As a recent graduate in loan repayment, I wish I had known as a student what I know now about loans. For example, there were times when I received a refund check to help with my off-campus expenses. The refund was from my student loan and was sometimes more than I needed. But back then, I didn't realize that if I didn't need the full amount, or if I could cut my expenses, I could return a portion of that refund check to the school. Doing that, along with making interest payments while in school on my loans that were accruing interest, would have reduced the amount I borrowed and am now having to repay. Loans are an important piece of the financial aid award for many students, but reducing borrowing whenever possible will make repayment more manageable.
5. Hannah Bobker, Financial Capability Coordinator and Nikki Vachon, College Access Counselor
These FAME team members both advocate for thinking about future work-related opportunities when selecting a school. Hannah, a recent graduate, recommends finding a school with good work opportunities on- or off-campus as a way to build your professional resume, while also earning money for school. Nikki suggests checking out Career Services offices as, "The strength of these offices was a major deciding factor for us. The best offices connected students to internships, made sure every student created a resume or portfolio, and invited companies to campus to hold interviews for graduating students. One school we visited had created a website that showcased their graduating class with a professional headshot and link to their resume and body of work, which was then promoted to employers in the industry."
For additional helpful information and resources, find  previous issues of 5 on the 5th on our website.

FAME's College Access and Financial Education Team:

Mila Tappan, College Access and Outreach Manager
Jessica Whittier, College Access Counselor 
Nikki Vachon, College Access Counselor
Maria MacDougal, College Access Counselor
Floreka Malual, College Planning Advisor
Mary Dyer, Financial Education Officer
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