7 Financial Aid Planning Tips You Need To Know

African American College Graduate Pointing to Money Sign

College can be expensive, and with rising tuition costs parents and students need to be financially prepared to make sound decisions based on what they can afford. A good place to begin researching to prepare for your child’s education costs is with online resources like FinAid!, which offers financial aid planning tips every parent needs to know.

Top Financial Planning Tips

Here are 7 of my favorite college financial planning tips:

1. Create a College Savings Plan

A jar full of money with college fund label.

The sooner you start saving for your children’s college education, the more time you will have for your savings to grow and understand how much financial aid you’ll need. Even if college is only a couple of years away, start saving now to be better prepared.

2. Good Grades Create Opportunities

Building academic and personal credentials takes time. Transcripts reveal academic achievements from the 9th to 12th grades, so the 9th grade is a good starting point for getting high grades and test-taking success. However, acquiring a foundation for learning begins earlier in elementary school. The higher the GPA and the higher the SAT/ACT scores, the better your chances for academic scholarships, which will lessen dependence on financial aid.

Team of young volunteers picking up litter in the park

3. Ways For Students To Stand Out

Good grades are important, but college and scholarship committees have many applicants with outstanding GPAs and test scores. Have your student get involved in school and community activities. Leadership involvement and community service show a student’s potential, diversity and concern for others.

4. Fill Out Those Forms

You’re not going to receive any financial aid or scholarship funding if you don’t apply for it, so go in with a positive attitude and apply for awards early and often. Financial aid is available along with millions of dollars in grants and scholarships being awarded every year. Be sure to follow instructions and meet deadlines.

5. Visit the Financial Aid Office

FASFA paperwork lying on a desk.

Make financial aid a part of your campus visits. Ask to speak with someone in the student financial aid office as it’s the best way to help your family become familiar with campus-based awards and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA) process. Ask questions and take notes! They could come in handy later.

6. Live Frugally

Set a college budget and stick to it. It’s best to live like a student while you’re in school, so you don’t get overburdened with student loans and have to live like a student after you graduate. Short-term sacrifices can make a huge difference in the long run and can lead to building long-term practical money skills.

A girl weighing out the cost of college with a pile of books in one hand and a piggy bank in the other.

7. Don’t Over Borrow

With student loan debt and over borrowing at all time high, you don’t want to fall into the trap of being saddled with massive amounts of financial aid debt. DON’T borrow more than you need. Remember you have to pay it back!

Need Help With College Planning?

We know navigating the costs of college and be confusing. At Westface College Planning we can advise you on financial aid planning issues and help you create a college funding plan that saves you time and money. Contact us today with your questions!