If you’re a parent with a teenager about to leave for college, you probably already know that higher education will be a different experience than it was for your generation. Many degrees are at least partially available through the Internet, and costs have skyrocketed. Here are five financial things you should be sure to do before your teen heads off to college.
Listen to Your Child
Perhaps it never occurred to you that your teenager would go to college anywhere other than your alma mater or maybe your spouse’s. While the prospect of shelling out $50,000 a year for at least four years at that school is daunting, the figure might be overshadowed by nostalgia.
You need to listen to what your child is trying to tell you about his or her preferences or experiences in exploring schools, according to U.S. News. Parents whose first child is leaving for college tend to want to do a lot of talking and a lot of assuming. Your kid probably has valuable information to share about choices of colleges or universities and how things work at each school.
Plan for a Worst-case Situation
Worst-case situation could be anything; it might mean a school that costs three times what you envisioned, It could be that your child doesn’t get an anticipated scholarship, or any scholarship.
The National suggests that one way you can help your child excel in college is to start planning financially for the experience years in advance and plan for the worst. It will translate into financial freedom for you when college orientation rolls around and give your youngster a sound, independent start as an adult.
Discuss Identity Theft
It doesn’t always happen to somebody else. It can strike at any age. Talk with your college-bound kid about the ways in which identity theft happens. These kids live on the Internet. They use credit cards and purchase things online, so it’s important to take precaution.
If they’re old enough to use credit cards, then they’re old enough to know how to use a monitoring service such as Lifelock. Choose a service that monitors identity and notifies the subscriber of potential compromises. LifeLock scans for threats, which equates to peace of mind, especially if your child is at a college thousands of miles from home.
Don’t Depend on Student Loans
When it comes to how to finance college, student loans might or might not be part of the solution.If your child has certain schools in mind, you might expect him or her to contribute a certain amount toward the cost. Even if you’ve saved enough to cover the expense through long-term planning, one way for your child to fund part of the expense is through a student loan.
Fortunately, these loans typically carry a low interest rate. They don’t have to be repaid until after the student has graduated. However, a student loan represents taking on debt and should really be a last resort to fund a college education.
Encourage Testing for Credit
The College Board doesn’t just design, administer and report college entrance exams. Two of its programs allow high school students to earn college credits for passing examinations, potentially savings thousands of dollars of tuition.
Encourage your college-bound child to look into Advanced Placement (AP) courses and taking the respective AP tests at the end of each one for possible college credit.
The College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) seeks to give students credit for what they already know. CLEP offers a group of standardized tests that are great way to earn credit for learning gained by independent study and cultural experiences.
Though new and exciting, college is often a hectic experience for students and their parents. Taking advantage of these financial tips should reduce the stress your family faces when your youngster leaves the nest.