With college graduation season upon us, you may be inspired to start thinking about your own child’s or grandchild’s college experience, including how you will pay for wherever they decide to go. Student loans are one way to pay, but they can become a financial burden for a significant number of years. A better strategy is to save money so college is affordable without loans. It’s never too early to start saving for college, and there are several ways to do it successfully. With good, advanced planning, you will be able to help your family members attend the college of their choice without having to rely on student loans.

4 Strategic Ways to Save Money on College

1. Open a 529 Savings Plan

A 529 savings plan is specifically meant to be used for educational purposes, usually college. Anyone can contribute to this account and contributions are considered a gift to the beneficiary. Earnings on the money in this account are tax-free, making it a great way to invest for future educational expenses. Parents and grandparents can open these accounts for their children or grandchildren when they are young and continue contributing to the accounts until they are needed for higher education costs. Additionally, having a 529 account should not get in the way of receiving financial aid, as the child or grandchild does not own the account, so it is not their asset.

2. Apply for Financial Aid and Scholarships

Financial aid can be helpful for families, and it never hurts to apply. Often, institutions will grant even small amounts of aid, and any amount is helpful in covering those large university costs. There are two main kinds of financial aid packages: needs based and merit based. Merit based financial aid is usually called a scholarship, and it is awarded based on academic standing or some other achievement, such as superiority in sports or the arts. There are many different kinds of scholarships, both through universities and from outside organizations, so it is a good idea to meet with a college guidance counselor and to do your own research on what is out there.

3. Apply for Work Study

Work study is a way to offset educational costs by working in the university. There are a number of different jobs students can have, such as working in the cafeteria, the library, any university shop, or any other positions your particular university might have. Because work study is through the university, it can be scheduled around classes, giving students flexibility to work part time on campus without it interfering with their class schedule.

4. Take AP and College Classes in High School

One way to cut down on college costs is to reduce the amount of time you need to spend there. The more college credit your child or grandchild can amass before college starts, the fewer semesters they may need to spend at college, meaning the less tuition will need to be paid. This option is only a good idea for students who can handle the rigor of a college-level class at a younger age, especially when going the AP route. However, there may be summer courses to take that are not too difficult and that can earn them college credit.

DeSantis, Kiefer, Shall & Sarcone Can Help You Save For College

These are only some of the ways to save money on college, and our expert advisors at DeSantis, Kiefer, Shall & Sarcone can help you plan financially for this upcoming expense based on your particular situation and needs. Reach out to us so we can help your family see financial success.