Once your teen has finally hit the ages of 17 or 18, going off to college becomes less of a distant thought and more of approaching reality.
As nervous as they may be to leave home and take their academics to the next level, you’re just as nervous to see them go.
Above all else, your top concerns as a parent are financially driven—how you’ll prepare for the expenses attached to a college education may even keep you up at night.
Put your worries to rest and ease your mind with these financial tips every mother of a college-bound teen should know!
Look at the big picture
The cost of going to college is at an all-time high. The average private university charges $35,000 for tuition alone. If your child is looking at top-tier Ivy League colleges, you can expect to budget for at least $50,000 on tuition. Keep in mind that there are several additional costs that factor into the bigger picture cost.
Take Harvard University, for example. Tuition is $47,730; room and board totals to about $17,682; university fees are around $4,195; and your grand total is about $69,607 per semester.
Factoring in the cost of textbooks and personal expenses, it is fair to estimate you’ll be responsible for at least $70,000 for one half of a year of schooling.
Typically colleges increase the cost of attendance year after year, so it is also fair to estimate you’ll be spending more than $70,000 per semester over the course of your child’s undergraduate career. Rather than planning one year at a time, keep the big picture perspective in mind to better understand the financial situation tied to a specific institution.
Explore scholarships and grant opportunities
Even though college is expensive, there are a number of options out there that help make it a little easier on your wallet. Depending on your child’s unique situation, they may qualify for a number of different scholarships.
Whether your son is a soccer star or your daughter is valedictorian, their strong suits could qualify them for college scholarships and grants to soften the blow of tuition costs.
Need a place to begin your search? These resources are our favorites:
Scholarships are one of the easiest ways to lessen the load of debt you’ll likely take on the moment your child commits to a university. Encourage them to fill out as many applications as they can to set your family up for a more financially stable future.
Encourage your son/daughter to work part-time
Paying for a college education doesn’t have to be a one-sided thing. College is all about learning independence and self-sufficiency, and what better way to introduce your child both than by encouraging them to find a part-time job.
The first semester of their freshman year may need to be reserved for an adjustment-only period, but once they’ve gotten into a comfortable swing of things, they’ll be able to schedule out time to work 15-20 hours a week.
With some extra cash in their pocket, they’ll be able to save up, buy a car, pay off loans early, and afford the many things on their college bucket lists.
Look into PLUS loans
Nobody wants to take out loans, but some things (like a college education) are worth investing in. Parent PLUS loans are an answer to a need for additional funding to fit the tuition bill.
Disbursed directly through the U.S. Department of Education, PLUS loans require credit checks and can only be applied to cover the cost of attendance, which is ultimately determined by the institution. This means no additional textbook or personal expenses can be covered.
Create a college savings plan
If you know your child has big college dreams, a college savings plan may be the best route for you to save towards their reality. A 529 College Savings Plan is an education savings plan sponsored by a state or state agency. These funds can be applied to most two-year and four-year colleges and universities, and eligible foreign institutions.
Footing the bill for a college education is a tough American reality that most struggle with on a daily basis. With these financial tips, you’ll be ahead of the curve and prepared for send-off success.
Identity Magazine is all about guiding women to discover their powers of Self-Acceptance, Appreciation, and Personal Achievement. We ask that every contributor and expert answer the Identity questions in keeping with our theme.
Their answers can be random and in the moment or they can be aligned with the current article they have written. In that way, and as a team, we hope to encourage and motivate each other, thus inspiring you to Get All A’s.
1. What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? Additionally, what are you still working on accepting? Now, we’re talking about resignation, rather stepping into, embraced, and owned.
I have accepted that it is impossible to please everyone. I struggled for years to fit in with what I thought were the “cool kids,” but in the end I was unhappy because I felt I could never be my true self.
Today, I now accept that to be my true self, as an individual, means that not everyone will like me, and that I can’t please everyone. But I now understand that being myself brings to me the most fulfilling relationships.
2. What have you learned to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? On the other hand OR in contrast, are there elements of who you are that you’re still working on appreciating?
I have learned to appreciate my family more, flaws and all. When I was young, my parents had a very busy life, and struggled to just make ends meet in our family. As a result, I became resentful that they never spent enough time with my siblings and I.
Now I appreciate them more, because they worked so hard for our family, and I am grateful now that I can have a stronger relationship with them as an adult and have a truly fulfilling relationship with them.
3. What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? Tell us not only what makes YOU most proud but also share the goals and dreams that you still have.
The most rewarding thing I have ever done was when I decided to study abroad in Barcelona for a semester. I really felt like I broke out of my shell.
Being in an unfamiliar place where you can’t speak the language is difficult, but I gained so much confidence in myself that I can achieve my dreams in life. I still have a passion for travel. I would love to become a travel writer one day and circle the globe!