Need to Accumulate
Enough Money for College?
How to accumulate enough money for college? This is something every parent thinks about from the moment their child is born. It’s daunting, to be sure. The earlier you begin to plan for college the easier it will be to reach your goal. But no matter what age your child is when you begin, if you do a little research you can find great sources of free college money.
- There are a number of sites on the Internet where you can research scholarships and other sources of money for college. Fastweb.com is one of the best examples. They list opportunities for students from high school through graduate school. Your student registers on the site and completes a profile. Fastweb.com then matches them – based on interests, ethnicity, religious affiliation, area in which they live, anticipated course of study, etc. – with the opportunities that are out there. Then, fastweb.com will alert your student to new opportunities as they become available.
Fastweb.com also has information and tips on other financial aid options, college admissions, jobs and internships, and other college-related topics. There are tools and discussion groups to answer questions and give your child a boost of confidence as they begin this new stage of their life. The site says that they are recommended by more than 16,000 high schools. It’s definitely worth checking into.
- You would be amazed at how many scholarship opportunities there are! Don’t worry about the size of the scholarships – many are relatively small – because they can all add up to a worthwhile package of college funding.
- Besides sites to help you research scholarships, there are also individual sites that offer scholarships. MamasHealth.com and MoneyMatters101.com are two such sites.
Saving For College
- Establish a discipline of putting a specific amount of money away each month into your child’s college account. Determine how much fits in your budget – you want to be sure it’s an amount that you can consistently put away.
- If your child often gets cash as a gift, help her establish a habit of designating at least half of each gift as money for college. If you begin this practice at an early age your child will easily form the habit of saving money.
- Consider giving your child money for college as part of his Christmas or birthday gift. Think about it – does your child really need more “stuff”? For most parents that answer would be a big NO! As an alternative, make it a tradition to contribute money to your child’s college fund as part of your child’s gift. This is what I do for my granddaughter. She always receives a gift from me to open at Christmas and on her birthday, and I also put money into her college account on each of these holidays. It’s a routine I began when she was born and now it’s just second nature.
- Encourage your child – and even help them – to do a job, with the understanding that most (or all!) of the money they earn goes to their college fund.
For example, recycling is an excellent way for children to earn money. They have a sense of satisfaction about both doing something worthwhile for the environment, and earning money for college. You’ll probably find that friends and family members are pleased to help with such a good cause! With others helping collect, the profits can add up quickly. My granddaughter earns about $20 per month for college with very little effort by recycling bottles and cans from just 2 family members. A friend of hers, however, is a real inspiration – she collects from several friends, family members and neighbors, and her school even let her put collection bins on campus. It takes a little work to collect and sort all of it, but for her trouble she earns about $125 per month. That’s money that would otherwise be literally thrown away. Instead it goes straight into her college fund!
Other jobs are also good for teaching kids responsibility while earning college money. Yard work, house cleaning, car washing, and vacation pet, plant or house sitting are all great options. I’m sure in your area there are other possibilities as well.
- Check into Upromise. Upromise.com is a popular Web site that gives you hundreds of ways to accumulate money for college by just doing what you already do – shop, eat out, buy gas and groceries, etc. It’s a great opportunity and worth the time to check out. Upromise has arranged with hundreds of companies to give you back a percentage of your purchases. That refund is credited to your Upromise account. You can use the money you earn in 3 ways: invest it in a tax-free 529 account for future use, use it to pay down student loans, or request a check to pay college expenses, so you can take advantage of the benefits of Upromise at any stage in your child's college journey. But it bears repeating...the earlier you start saving, the easier it will be to reach your goal.
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