Parents

Few people plan to fail, but many people fail to plan. That axiom is worth keeping in mind as you look forward to your child’s college education. The earlier you establish a plan for how to pay for a college education, the better off you and your child will be when the time comes. The years go by quickly and before you know it, high school graduation is here, so the sooner you get started, the better.

 

Best time to start planning for college? NOW!

Getting started on formulating a plan, both academically and financially, for your student’s higher education will be beneficial to their success. Whether your student is in elementary, middle, or high school, it isn’t too early or too late to start planning. Statistics show that a college education can mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional income over a person’s lifetime, therefore helping your student in the planning process can set stable groundwork for their future.  This helpful checklist from the U.S. Department of Education includes advice for parents with children of all ages.

Resources

Guiding your student in selecting the right career path

Your student will likely change their mind many times about what career path they would like to take.  Helping your student figure out what they want to be when they grow up can be difficult, but it’s a critically important step in keeping post-secondary education affordable.

Talk with your child about your own education and career path, including twists and turns you may have encountered along the way.  Ask your child about what they are passionate about, what they dream about becoming and what they thing they are good at.  Help your child imagine life with a certain career and role play what a day on that job might be like.  Once your child has a career in mind, it’s easier to figure out which type of college education they will need.

There are some useful resources out there to help guide your child in understanding their own interests. With Junior Achievement they can take a personality quiz to see what careers they fit into and Inspire Wisconsin can help link your child with career professionals.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction is working to integrate career planning into our K-12 schools statewide. Learn more about those efforts by clicking here.

Students

Learn about all available college options

A degree from a four-year university is a wonderful thing (even better when it’s achieved in four years!), but it’s certainly not the right educational path for every student.  A degree from a two-year technical college can be every bit as rewarding for your child – financially and otherwise.

There are many different college options your child can choose from: a four-year college or university, private college, community college and a technical or career college.  Understanding what each has to offer and your child’s career goals will help set your child up for success.

Technical Colleges of Wisconsin

Private Colleges in Wisconsin

University of Wisconsin System

There’s no substitute for saving for your child’s education

Let’s face it. College is expensive. The earlier you get started on a savings plan, the better off you will be when it comes time to send your child off to college. Setting up a savings account early – and having your child do the same – can greatly minimize the need for student loans later in life. You can do so through your preferred financial institution or utilize Wisconsin’s College Savings Plan, Edvest, which offers certain tax advantages for Wisconsin residents. Here are 10 reasons why you should consider saving with Edvest.

A variety of funding sources are available to make college affordable

If you’re one of those parents who has diligently saved for your child’s educational future, congratulations! If you haven’t, you’re not alone. The good news is a variety of funding is available, including grants, work-study and low-interest loans. Financial aid can come from the federal government, the State of Wisconsin, the college your child will be attending, or private organizations. Finding the right mix of funding sources is critical to holding down the cost of an education. Here’s some useful information on how to hold down the cost of a college education.

 

Check out these Wisconsin Loan Providers.

Scholarships = Free Money

Scholarships are usually offered to students who meet certain requirements and they’re not always just for kids who are academically gifted.  They may be given to students who have strong academic or athletic skills, are members of a specific ethnic group, or belong to a church or civic-based organization.  Researching the thousands of private scholarships that are offered can take some time, but the effort may be well worth it. There are a variety of free services that offer up lists of academic scholarships, including this one hosted by the U.S. Department of Labor that contains more than 7,000 scholarships.

Commit this acronym to memory: FAFSA

It’s called the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and it is the first step you and your child should take to be considered for federal aid for post-secondary education. By filling out and submitting the FAFSA, a prospective student will automatically receive consideration for federal grants, loans and work study. Many states and colleges also use FAFSA data to determine eligibility for state and school aid, and some private financial aid providers may use the information to determine whether a student qualifies for aid. Click here to watch a short video that provides a great overview of the FAFSA form. If you still don’t think you’re eligible, you’re (probably) wrong, click here for more information.

FAFSA

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