Paying for College: What You Need to Know
Is college soon approaching? If you’re like most high school students, you probably have a couple schools in mind but aren’t sure what to do next. Determining how you’re going to pay for school is a great place to start next. First, ask your parents how much they plan to help you with paying for college.
Once you understand how much of your college expenses are going to fall on your shoulders you can start applying for financial aid and scholarships. To help, we’ve put together some guiding tips to make sure you know what it means to set yourself up financially for attending college.
Avoid paying college application fees.
High school advisors are more than willing to help you apply for college and navigate application fees. Applying online and before the deadline are the easiest ways to avoid some application fees and remember that community colleges are free to apply to in Iowa. You can also request your school counselor to send a fee waiver on your behalf from the National Association for College Admission Counseling if you have a financial hardship.
Apply for scholarships.
If you’re an upperclassman in high school, the term FAFSA has probably been coming up a lot lately. By completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), you’re applying for most forms of federal and state financial aid. It is important you apply for the FAFSA even if you don’t expect to qualify for anything, because it is the prerequisite for all types of financial aid. When you finish the FAFSA, you’ll see a prompt asking if you want to complete the Iowa Financial Aid application as well. Say yes! That prompt actually leads to a short series of simple questions to determine whether you might be eligible for additional state aid. If you’re not eligible, then you know you’re done applying for official aid. If you already said no to the Iowa Financial Aid Application, you can still fill it out, and it can be worth the few minutes it takes. The FAFSA will need filled out every year that you attend college, so remember around Christmas break that it’s that time again to check with your financial aid office, since the form is usually due mid-January. Some grants or scholarships might not be as well advertised, so try a scholarship search engine to find options that might be closer to home.
Save instead of spend.
This seems obvious, but we’ll put it here anyway. If you have more money than you need sitting in your checking account, transfer it to your savings. This will keep you from spending more and will also earn you a little interest over time. If you get money for birthdays or Christmas, tuck it away to either save for something you really want, or for the tuition payments you will need to make each month. Be strategic in what you ask for as gifts, things like your laptop or futon for college could be gathered earlier, meaning less for you to buy later. Small purchases you make can add up and cause your account to get low without you even noticing. Saving is a habit you should form now, it will help you buy the textbooks you need, or the football ticket you will want, at college.
College is an exciting step towards becoming a responsible member of the adult world. We promise that all the time you dedicate now, will be well worth it when you’re leaving college with all the best financial habits already in place.
Make sure you’re doing all you can to get ready for this big change and don’t forget to study! Read more on getting ready for college here, or if you're already in college, read these tips to keep your good spending and saving habits.
Lincoln Savings Bank, Member FDIC