Students

Investing in yourself with further education after high school benefits your career and life.  People who complete a post-secondary degree have a greater earning potential in their lifetime than people who do not.

So how do you achieve your educational dream?  You’ll need to make important decisions about the career path you want to pursue, the academic institution that’s right for you, and the best combination of financial resources.  This is about you and your journey.  Let’s get started!

Elementary School

What do you want to be when you grow up? It’s fun to think about all the possibilities.  Grade school is not too early to explore and dream about your future while saving money to further your education.

 

Kids and Parent Check list

Save and invest for college with Wisconsin’s Edvest Program, its tax free.

Help your child decide what to do for school

Careers and Jobs, what’s out there?

Career Games

 

 

Middle School

Choosing a potential career path starts with learning about yourself, your personality, your likes and dislikes, do you like the indoors or outdoors, etc.  Becoming more familiar with the many career options available is also important.  Understanding your life goals and career interests will help determine what classes to take in high school and your participation in other educational opportunities such as part time jobs, extracurricular activities, student clubs, etc., to prepare you for your future.

Your interests and the work world

Personality Quiz

Career search

Help your teen decide what to do after high school

Major and Career Search

Career Cruising online career guidance resources.

High School

Narrowing down your career options and learning about the educational requirements needed to achieve them will help you decide on your next steps after high school.  Having a good understanding of how to select and pay for college can even help lower the cost overall.

As you start the second half of your high school career, it’s important to start thinking about your post-high school goals. Whether you want to go to college or jump right into the work-force, we are here to help assist you in any decision you choose. Some of you may already know exactly what you want to do but, many of you may not, and that’s ok! A great way to get started is through career exploration, training and jobs. For those of you who are planning on college after high school, Studentaid.gov is a great resource for college preparation. Compare colleges to find the best fit for you.

There are a few ways to prepare for a career while still in high school. Through Inspire Wisconsin you can get connected with career professionals who can give you advice on career options and could even lead to a part-time job or internship. Another way to get hands on experience is by finding a mentor through Wisconsin Youth Apprenticeship where you can get on-the-job training in addition to your normal classes.

 

Obtaining college credits while in high school will help save on future tuition costs. If you can enroll in AP classes, and get high enough marks on the AP Exam, you can  skip over lower level classes when entering college. Students who meet certain requirements during their junior or senior year at a Wisconsin Public school can enter the Wisconsin’s Youth Option Program. This program allows students to take classes on a UW campus or Technical campus as well as Private Colleges for both high school and college credit. (See example, UW-Madison).

Financial planning for college can be a big task but luckily there are learning resources out there on how to successfully budget. A great way to start your college budgeting is by estimating the cost of tuition for your chosen field. Some of you may qualify for Financial Aid, ask your parents to help you fill out a FAFSA form to estimate how many grants and loans you can get. If you don’t qualify for enough you’ll want to look into private student loans through a bank or accredited institution. Be sure to shop around to get the lowest interest rates which could help you save lots of money in the long run.

BEWARE: There are many scammers out there who target students who are still learning the financial world. Be sure to check legitimacy, by looking at: Consumer Advisory.

College

Saving for college doesn’t stop once you’ve entered college; there are a few ways to keep the debt from adding up during your college years. First, continue to apply for scholarships every year, scholarships mean free money and a great way to pay for college! Some great spots to look for scholarships are, through your college or University, your hometown community, your parents work, and many online resources.

CareerOneStop

Scholarships.com

Wisconsin Public Service Scholarships

MONEYSAVINGPRO – College Scholarships

SallieMae Scholarship Search

FASTChoice – private loan borrowing information through Borrowing Essentials counseling

For those of you that qualify for a work-study grant through FAFSA, it is highly recommended to use it. Simply because you can get an on-campus job in your field of study, giving you real world experience and will look great on a future job resume.

Paying on your student loans while in college will help save on interest in the future. Say you get a summer job, use some of your earnings to pay on your loans, that way when your grace period is up after graduation, you will have that much less of a balance for interest to compound on.

Finally, build and keep good credit.  Just like getting grades in school, consumers get graded on how well they use credit.  Instead of A’s and B’s credit is measured with a credit score.   A good credit score means you’ll save money with lower interest rates on loans and lower insurance premiums, and rank better on employment and tenant background checks. Credit scores are not necessarily free but check with your credit card company, many provide credit scores at no cost.

Credit reports contain your credit history.  Check your report for accuracy at all three credit bureaus for free.

Post-College

An investment in education is an investment in yourself and your future.  Research and strategize the best ways to repay your loans to save yourself a lot of time and money.

Unsustainable student loan debt can become a problem for individuals and families, but solutions exist to help struggling borrowers, such as the Income-Based Repayment, Pay As You Earn and Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Unfortunately, many eligible borrowers do not participate in these programs even though their loan payments could be reduced and/or forgiven.  Take a moment to see if you quality.

One way to make loan payments manageable is to consolidate them into one monthly payment. Be sure to read the pros and cons to see if this option is best for you.  You can also take a look at FASTChoice Repayment Essentials counseling – preparing for private loan repayment

Be sure to avoid scams (4 ways to spot a Student Loan Scam) when exploring debt consolidation and student loan repayment plans. This article in Consumer Advisory also provides detailed red flags when looking into consolidation plans. If you come across a scam, submit a formal complaint to be sure it doesn’t happen to others.

The best way to stay on top of your finances and budget well is to learn about budgeting your expenses. MyMoney.gov is a good start to doing just that.