In previous articles, I talked about how summertime is the best time to work on planning your teen’s future. There are many different tasks you and your teen can take on. Click here to read Post-High School Planning: What Your Teen Needs to Do Now, where I share several ideas.

An important step in planning is to determine how you’re going to pay for your teen’s post-secondary education. A parent reached out to me after her teen got accepted to her dream school, asking for my help with finding student loans. Her daughter was going to attend this great school, and she had no idea how to pay for it. Families should consider this step during their college search, not after they’ve selected a school.

The goal of all students should be to get through college without taking out student loans. We live in a culture where taking out loans is a given, which is why our country’s student loan debt is over $1.7 trillion. I spoke at a conference recently, and a parent said she attended my session because she has over $100,000 in student loan debt from her education and didn’t want the same fate for her teen. 

So what are your options when it comes to paying for higher education?

Know what career your teen wants and its job outlook and salary. Many people aren’t even in the profession in which they acquired student loan debt. Or they get loans to earn a degree for a job that doesn’t pay well. Student loans make sense only if your salary will allow you to pay off the loan.

Shop around for schools. There are many excellent schools where your teen can get a great education at a lesser cost. Consider more than just the schools you’ve heard about.

Look at scholarships colleges offer, and make note of the requirements and deadlines. I can’t tell you how many parents have told me they missed out on thousands of dollars in scholarship opportunities because either they heard about them after the deadline or didn’t realize that if their teen’s GPA was just one point higher, they would have qualified.

Research other scholarship opportunities. Many local organizations like civic, business and professional organizations offer scholarships to high school students. You can also do a Google search for scholarship opportunities. Many awards apply to trade or technical schools as well.

Find out about federal aid options and tax benefits. There are many different types of federal aid, including the Pell Grant, Work-Study, and Subsidized Loans. Tax Benefits include American Opportunity, Lifetime Learning, and Tuition Gift Tax. Talk to your financial planner about the different tax benefits to see if any are suitable for your family. 

Remember, researching how to pay for higher education should be part of the process of finding your teen’s ideal college. Want to know more about which post-secondary school is right for your teen? Schedule a complimentary College Assessment Plan call with me here.