Five College Planning Tips
Whether you're a counselor, teacher, family member or friend, you can have a significant influence on helping the next generation plan and pay for college. Here are some tips to help get started.
1. Talk about the future.
"What do you want to do after high school?" Asking that question and following up with details of how to reach that goal is a great place to start. It's difficult to reach a goal that hasn't been set. Also, consider sharing your experiences. Students of all ages love hearing about how the adults in their lives ended up where they are and what they learned along the way. Life often isn't a straight path, and it's helpful for students to know that there are many ways for them to accomplish their goals. Start the conversation with these tips from FAME.
2. Encourage families to start saving early.
Those who save for education after high school will have a much easier time paying for school. Not only will saving help reduce debt, simply having a college savings account (even a very small amount) has been shown to have a significant aspirational impact on children. According to research from Washington University in St. Louis, children who have college savings accounts are almost seven times more likely to attend college than children without an account. Worried that saving might impact financial aid eligibility? Check out this 5 on the 5th to allay concerns.
3. Share the benefits of earning a degree.
Most people are familiar with the increased income that comes with a degree. Over a lifetime, those with a bachelor's degree earn $1M more on average than those with only a high school diploma. But the benefits go beyond the money. According to the College Board, those with a degree have more job opportunities, are happier and more satisfied with their work, and live healthier lifestyles. Being aware of these future benefits can help students push through challenges on their path to earning a degree.
4. Help students research a variety of schools.
There are over 4,500 degree-granting schools in the U.S that offer different majors, come in different sizes and locations, and vary tremendously in terms of cost and financial aid. Encourage students to start researching schools early (Big Future's College Search is a great place to start), and visit schools in person when possible. When researching costs, focus on the net price (the cost after grants and scholarships). To get an early estimate of cost, use the Net Price Calculator, which can be found on each school's website. Some expensive schools are more affordable than you might think. Learn more about researching schools.
5. Make sure students file for financial aid early.
One of the best ways to maximize financial aid and make paying for school possible is to file early. Many schools have priority financial aid and other deadlines. Filing after the deadlines can result in missing out on grants and scholarships. Students need to be aware of all deadlines and determine which forms are required to ensure requirements are met for all schools under consideration. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is required every year and becomes available each year on October 1st. Free help is available from FAME--visit
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For information on college planning, join us on Wednesday, January 11th at 10:00 a.m. for this month's free Wednesday Webinar:  It's a New Year--Make Planning for College a New Year's Resolution!

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