With student loan debt at an all-time high, it’s a no-brainier that students themselves are struggling to make ends meet while plodding towards their higher education goals credit by expensive credit. However, behind the scenes, parents are often the ones who shoulder the majority of the responsibilities and it’s important to recognize their role.
As is common knowledge for most people, once you have a child you’ll never stop worrying about them. It starts with the counting of fingers and toes, wondering if they’ll roll over on their front or back or side while sleeping, followed by wondering how long an always-on-the-go toddler can survive on three peas and a quarter sized piece of chicken when you can’t get them to spare a minute for mealtime. Also, the days they go to school and come home saying the teachers checked everyone’s hair for something. Not to be spared in the teen years, there’s the moment when they want to take the car keys, but not you, when they aren’t home by curfew, and when they “forget“ to call. In addition, there’s basically a low to mid-grade worried tension whenever they are not in your immediate presence. For life.
College combines so many aspects of parental worrying it should be illegal. There’s the worry that your student may be engaging in frivolous or dangerous behavior. Also, the distinct possibility that your student may lose interest in the long stretch between entering college and receiving their first degree, though it may lessen slightly for every successive degree past that. Perhaps you might find yourself dealing with the anxiety that comes with raising, protecting and providing for a part of your body and soul for eighteen years or more, only to have them suddenly become emotionally independent adults and move across the country to live on campus with hundreds of absolute strangers.
Beyond the personal hospital bills for almost two decades of constant worrying, perhaps the biggest and most nagging constant concern for parents is the exorbitant cost of college, just the preliminary numbers leaving you wondering how you and your child will ever pay it all off. It’s the worst sort of double-edged worry, because it calls into question not only your child’s present but future quality of life and financial credit. While there are a lot of parents who started a college savings account for their children in infancy, a majority find themselves at that turning point co-signing for high-interest personal loans, mortgaging their homes or selling off assets to ensure that their children get an adequate higher education.
There are several ways, rather than paying for it out of your own pocket, that you can try to cut the cost of your student’s college and student loans.
First, always encourage your child to take the FAFSA. It’s free, it’s easy and it may save thousands of dollars. It‘ll let you know how much money in federal aid or grants your family can reasonably be expected to get, and can give your student‘s college loan advisors a place to start.
Also, do some research and encourage them to speak to their college advisors to see if there are any grants that might be available to them involving their chosen major or special skills they may possess. Grants are like free money for education and never need to be paid back.
Always exhaust your federal student loan options before taking out any private student loans. Federal loans are cheaper and may be subject to eventual student loan forgiveness by way of new legislation, while higher-interest private student loans are permanent debt until completely paid off.
It’s imperative that you and your student take into account the present and future job market and average professional wages paid before they completely decide on a major. Don’t let them go off to college without a definitive idea of what they want to do, it’s a huge investment of time and money.
Encourage your student to live at home and attend a cheaper community college for their undergraduate studies. Once they get an associate’s degree in their chosen major and are ready to move on to their bachelor‘s degree, it’ll be worth the extra cost to send them to a bigger college.
Help your young adult make a solid budget for the first year of college and go over all the numbers with them, so that they are aware of the cost involved. Too many students borrow copious amounts because it seems like free money, they just don’t see the strings behind it. Once they realize the seriousness of their situation, it’s often too late and both you and your student must face the immense debt accrued.
Finally, take care in co-signing anything for your student. If they default, the debt collectors will hold you equally responsible. For private student loans, even in the extremely unfortunate event of your child’s death, you will still be required to pay the balance. Not even bankruptcy can eliminate student loan debts. View more