It used to be that a so-called “middle class” family could easily afford to send their kids to college. These days, a lot of families are struggling just to keep a roof over their head and food on the dinner table. What can you do if your family finances don’t spread far enough for your child’s higher education? Read on, and you will know how you can send your kids to school even if don’t have a money tree in the backyard but still can’t qualify for financial aid.
When you need aid but don’t qualify
Students from coast to coast are feeling the pinch of being too rich to qualify for financial aid, but too poor to pay for tuition. According to Forbes magazine, millions of families currently find themselves in this precarious position. The reasons for such financial hardship range from rising college costs and fewer student grants to harder to obtain student loans.
Why your student didn’t qualify and what you can do about it
Most college financial aid is awarded according to the rules of FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Part of these rules include provisions for a mandatory and expected family contribution. Based on a complicated formula, the expected family contribution can be a lot more than a family can actually afford to pay.
To avoid a financial crunch at college time, start an education fund for your child when they are born. A 529 savings plan can be just right for a young family that is saving toward higher education in the future. When FAFSA is calculated, monies in this sort of account are considered differently from regular savings accounts, explains Forbes.
Once your child is in high school, encourage good grades and by all means, start applying for loans. Also look for non-need based financial programs such as Pell grants and other forms of scholarships. In many cases, it’s possible for your student to start applying for -and receiving- monetary grants while still attending high school. Grants are typically for less than $1000 each, so it’s a brilliant idea for your student to apply while in high school and set that cash aside until they are ready to enroll in the college of their choice.
The weight of student debt
According to recent studies, most Americans who carry significant student loan debts are women. Part of this is because women are more likely to go to college than men. Female graduates also have a harder time paying down their student debt load than their male counterparts, explains Huffington Post. At the time of this writing, student debt in the United States amounts to more than $800 billion dollars. Yes, that’s billion with a B. If you can send your kid to college without accruing such mighty debt, good for you.
The reasons men pay off student loans sooner are complicated. Men tend to go to public schools that cost less than private schools preferred by women. The ‘gender pay gap’ has a lot to do with the disparity in payback time frames, too. As HuffPo explains, men typically earn about $1500 more per year after graduation.
Burden of student loans on parents
A lot of parents don’t understand what costs are involved in taking out a loan on their student’s behalf. For middle-class families, taking on this sort of debt is not always a great idea. If your student opts to take out a loan that way, tell them to be sure to look for a loan that might eventually be forgiven under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
Loans are available
A number of banks and credit unions offer reasonably priced, fixed rate loans, say money experts at CNN. The only trouble is, these type of loans can be hard to qualify for. A better bet for your would-be student might be to speak with someone at a credit services company that’s in the business of making small loans to people who need them. A quick loan for books and school supplies can make all the difference, especially at the start of a new semester at college.
If your kid wants to go to college, there isn’t any reason they can’t attend. Be creative in your finances, build a budget and stick with it. Start saving for school when your kids are very young, and encourage them to apply for grants before graduating high school.
About the Author
Danielle Price is a single Mom who has (she thinks!) successfully raised 3 kids into teen and adulthood. Battling her own health issues along the way she shares her experiences on handling cash flow matters.