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MI MONEY: Paying For College

Congratulations! Your son or daughter has been accepted to the college of their choice. Are you ready for the upcoming expenses?

Senior year is a stressful time for kids and parents, alike. If you're a college-bound senior, you've spent countless hours taking exams, completing applications, writing essays and requesting letters of recommendation. If you're the parent of a college-bound senior, you've undoubtedly been worried about your child getting accepted to a school that will be a good fit for him or her. Now that the acceptance letters are pouring in, there is another big question to answer: Can you comfortably pay for your child's education?

While the cost of college has risen dramatically in the past decade, there are several cost effective ways to obtain a good, quality education:

1. If you have saved enough money in a 529 Plan or Get account, you may be able to pay the entire amount from your savings plan.

2. Be sure to research grants and scholarship opportunities to help you bridge any financial gaps. There are countless scholarships available, but grants are typically awarded to students on a need basis.

3. Pay it later! Take out a loan for a portion - or all - of your child's education expenses.

4. Enlist your son or daughter to help pay for a portion of their college expenses. Some parents feel that if there is some "skin in the game," their kids will be more apt to make the most of their college experience.

5. What about starting off with a less expensive option? Consider the benefit of haiving your child attend a community college for a couple of years and then transfer to the university of his or her choice. If there is an opportunity to live at home at home and attend school close to home, the financial impact will be diminished considerably.

6. Perhaps your son or daughter would benefit from a virtual university. While he or she could take a full load of courses, another option would be to "attend" school part-time and work part-time.

To be sure, your child's education will be a major life expense for your family. Don't forget to include all of the ancillary costs involved such as books, travel and extra money for extracurricular activities. If you have your financial strategy in place before your child leaves the nest, you just might find that you have greater peace of mind!

Milford Walker April 06, 2012 at 08:27 PM
Food for thought: The amount of money proposed to be spent on MI school bonds could provide every graduate of Mercer Island for the next 25 years over $22,000 in scholarship money in today's dollars (over $50,000 for the graduate in 25 years)!

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