By: Bryan Lee, UHEAA
Do you remember how long it took to fill your piggybank when you were a kid?
Then you may know by now that saving for college is something you can’t do overnight.
More Americans are saving money for higher education than before because they know saving for college is a long-term commitment. According to College Savings Plans Network about 31% of American parents open saving plans when their child is barely a year old.
Here are some strategies to save before attending college and while attending college.
- Start Early
- If you’re a parent, start saving for your child/children early—if you can, even before they’re born.
- If you’re a student, start saving for college every month or every week, and be consistent, even if it’s a small amount. Stick to your plan; put aside some money till you attend college.
- Smart Tip: Be careful when investing in stocks and bonds, make sure you fully understand how much you want to have in stocks and how much do you want to have in bonds. You may not want to invest without having a good understanding of the market.
- Open a 529 savings account
- 529 savings plan are used to cover tuition, fees, and other college expenses at certified colleges and universities.
- Each state manages its own 529 plan, however you aren’t obligated to invest in the state plan where you live.
- You may also want to pay close attention to the plan’s requirements to ensure that the college or university indented to attend is still an eligible institution.
While attending college
- Keep an eye out for free money
- There are also plenty of free national scholarship search engines – fastweb.com, zinch.com, bigfuture.collegeboard.org, etc.
- Take advantage of scholarships by applying for as many scholarships as possible.
- Remember, the sky’s the limit.
- Federal Grants and State Grants are also available and you don’t have to pay back. Grants are awarded to students based on financial need or other criteria. If you meet particular requirements, you may be eligible to receive them.
- Federal Grants:
- State Grants:
- See if your state offers state grants at Educational Resource Organization Directory.
- Analyze income and expenses
- Know how much you make, and spend according to a budget.
- You can save money by shopping smart and limiting social events. Before you spend, ask yourself “is this a need or a want.” Keeping your expense low as a college student can help you put more of your money toward your college expenses.
- Make it a habit to save a portion for an emergency life situation as well.