Picture of graduation cap and moneyIf you are a parent of a college-bound senior, your life is probably consumed these days with talk of college. First, there is the drama of your child deciding on which college(s) to apply to for admission. As your child is anxiously awaiting that all important acceptance letter from the dream school of his/her choice, perhaps you are
mentally working out which money tree to pick the tuition money from. What, no money tree growing in your back yard?

It’s time for plan B. There are a lot of grant, loan and scholarship options out there, but it can be daunting trying to find them. The first resource you might want to visit is USA.gov’s Education page for information about the Federal Student Aid program. The online FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form and guidelines for filling it out simplify the process considerably. You should know that many scholarship applications require you to fill out a FAFSA form, so this is the best place to start the process for tuition assistance. While you are going through this application process, make sure to pay close attention to federal and state loan deadlines. You’ll want to file well before the deadline, so you can receive aid before funds run out.

The Department of Education offers a handy student budget calculator. You can plug in tuition costs, room and board and other expenses
along with how much money you have in student loans or grants to get an idea of where you stand financially. While you are working the numbers, don’t forget to include your kids in the process too, especially since they may be the ones signing on the dotted line to pay back the money if loans are involved. They are becoming adults and they should have an understanding of what this is costing and perhaps that will make them work harder in school. You may also
want to have them visit College.gov where they can learn to be money savvy at college. They’ll find money saving tips, learn to set up a budget and avoid common scams that target students.

Getting your kid off to college can be quite the challenge, both emotionally and financially, but in the long run they will reap the benefits. Hopefully, this adventure is starting your child out on the right path to a bright future, but let’s not forget the real reward for you.  Once he/she is gone, you can turn his/her bedroom into that reading/craft/exercise room that you have always wanted! After getting through all of that drama, you deserve it!

Here are some additional resources that you may find useful:

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