Financial planning for college can be stressful

It’s the time of year when most college-seeking students are finding out if they’ve been accepted into their school of choice and senioritis starts to set in, but are students fully prepared to take the next step to college and beyond?

Not according to education experts who say there still are critical steps students must take during the remainder of their senior year to successfully prepare for college, including how to pay for their college education.

New research from the National Honor Societies reveals a top concern for college-seeking students is how they will finance their education. According to the survey statistics, half of students surveyed worry about whether they are able to pay for their college education.

Further, almost one in three students are reporting their parents are counting on scholarships to help pay for higher education, and nearly four in 10 students say they need help figuring out how to apply for scholarships.

There are just a few months left until graduation, but it is not too late (and, of course, never too early for students not graduating this year) to start preparing for college and understanding their financial options. The following tips from the National Honor Societies can help students and parents navigate the often-complex process of college funding:

  • Consider your own resources. This can include parent income, student income, gifts from relatives or starting savings accounts, such as the 529 plan.
  • Get financial aid. This can include need-based aid or merit-based aid. Need-based aid is available when families can prove they need the money, which can be done by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid as soon as possible after Jan. 1 each year. Merit-based aid is most commonly awarded through scholarships but could also include institutional grants offered by colleges and universities.
  • Reduce costs. Taking steps such as earning college credit by successfully completing Advanced Placement and dual enrollment coursework may cut the amount of time and money needed to earn a degree. AP exams are just around the corner, occurring the first two weeks of May. It’s not too late for students to buckle down and begin studying.

As an educator, I see first-hand how stressful the financial aspect of college can be for students and parents. With the right resources and information, though, students can begin taking action now to prepare for college, career and a lifetime of success. Visit today to take advantage of resources and tools to help you and your student start preparing now.