Ways to Pay Tuition

Ways to Pay Tuition

Paying for college has become one of the most important things your can do and it has become one of the most complicated processes in your financial life.  With the increased cost, requirement for advanced degrees and more financial options, it can be overwhelming for many people.  To maximize your college dollars your need to understand how multiple financial and personal decision come together.  Listed below are the major categories:

All of these financial decisions interact with each other and are highly dependent on one another.  In the college planning process the terms are called the same thing but can have different meanings in various areas.  As an example the term “qualified expenses” for use in a 529 plan reimbursement includes certain college expenses yet when used for the Opportunity Tax Credit it is defined as something else.  This is just one example of the confusion.

College Financial Aid Experts

As you go through the college funding years you will need to be careful on where you get your advice.  To properly plan for the financial stress of paying for college you will need to open up your entire financial life.  Completing the financial aid forms will require a family to disclose their entire financial strength.  This caution needs to be used when visiting the websites that offer various calculators.  Getting advice from professionals needs to be handled carefully as some advisers will use this information to propose various investment products.

The reputation of the financial service industry in the college funding area is not particularly good.  For this reason, many high schools just bring in the financial aid offices of a local college.  The problem is that you cannot get all of your questions answered due to their limited scope.  On the other hand, some college funding professional will promote certain financial products which in many cases are not appropriate solutions.  Websites can also be an issue since you will need to disclose most of your financial life to get the correct answer.  Many websites use this information for use in marketing research data at various levels.

Maximizing Your College Tuition Dollars

To maximize your college dollars and minimize your cost of education you will need to use strategies that the college financial aid offices cannot legally tell you.  Most of the college financial aid offices will tell you that you do not need outside financial advice since the process uses the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  This is the college’s focus and as stated above it is only one piece of the puzzle to college affordability.  Proper use of these other financial resources can not be addressed by the college financial aid offices but can save you thousands of dollars.

For most families and students, this is a significant investment and should be treated that way.  If you just take a step back and analyze it as a business decisions, your method of approach may be very different.  There is a significant amount of emotion when selecting a college.  The reality of the financial impact is often not realized until after you stop going to school.  This is one of the reasons why student debt is growing at the rate it is.

Proper planning and analysis is important in this decision process.  If done correctly it could saving you thousands of dollars in education cost and make your dream college affordable.