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College Financing and Career Guide 2007
Financing for college
Don't despair! From student loans to college grants, there are many options for paying for an education.
Financing for college
5 ways to make college saving a cinch
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Another way to unconsciously save cash is to enroll in a college savings rebate program. Modeled after credit card rewards programs, college savings rebate programs such as Upromise and LittleGrad offer parents, as well as friends and relatives, automatic rebates of up to 50 percent (though most rebates hover in the 1 percent to 5 percent range) just for shopping at affiliated retailers. Both programs are free, and all money saved is directly deposited into a 529 college savings plan, allowing families to save money without even realizing it.

Get the family involved
Sandy Morgan, a former school teacher who footed out-of-state tuition bills for her post-grad son and her daughter, a current senior at the College of Charleston, recommends making saving a family affair. "Both of my kids pitched in on their own, so they never had to ask for spending money when they were in school," she says. "My daughter worked as a resident adviser for three years and that also helped cut down on room and board bills."  

Encouraging students to become a part of the college savings process is not only financially beneficial in the short term, it also teaches students how to live on a budget, avoid debt and be conscious of the funds flowing in and out of their bank accounts -- all life skills they'll need both during and after college, says Neale S. Godfrey, author of "Money Doesn't Grow on Trees: A Parent's Guide to Raising Financially Responsible Children."

"With having the kids contribute to college, you're making them understand that they should also be responsible for their future," Godfrey says. "Forty percent of these kids return home after graduating because they are unable to live in the real world on a real salary. College itself does not train them to financially live outside the nest."

Godfrey suggests making the student responsible for footing part of the tuition bill. For her children, that meant ponying up one year of tuition. But she offers several ways the student can fulfill this financial obligation.

"It seems like a whole lot of money, but students can pay for (school) with loans, scholarships, grants, AP courses that reduce the amount of courses they have to take. I worked with one family where the kids started cutting coupons and by the time they went to college, they had $1,000. That's a huge deal." 

Godfrey also recommends encouraging students to take on summer jobs, to invite children to strategize on how to reduce household bills and to offer paid chores they can complete in their leisure time.

The key to making this strategy work is to start early, letting students know what their financial obligation will be before they enter high school so they'll have adequate time to prepare. "Raise them thinking that this is something that they're going to participate in," she says. "Make them understand that college is a wonderful, wonderful privilege, but it's very expensive and that's something they need to be engaged in."

-- Posted: July 2, 2007
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