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Money Matters Blog

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Getting Ready for College Starts with a Plan

June is an exciting time for high school seniors, with the excitement of prom and graduation is fresh in their minds.  Many of the soon-to-be high school grads are looking forward to moving on to college but the lack of a funding plan may dampen their dreams.

The question about how to afford that college education is also at the top of their parents’ minds. There is reason for those concerns as the cost of higher education continues to rise, during a sluggish economy.  According to a report by CNN last fall, the cost of “studying and living on campus at the average public university rose 5.4% for in-state students, or about $1,100, to $21,447.”

The same story noted the main reason for such an increase was the steep 8.3-percent spike in tuition and fees.

So what can concerned parents and students do to ensure they can afford a college education and start their child on the path of financial responsibility? Have a Plan and start early.

College funding is like any other dream, to achieve it takes getting educated on your options, setting realistic goals and sticking to your plan. There are tools available to help families cope with the growing cost of college.  For example, CNN MONEY has created this online college calculator to compare the cost of schools around the country.  This will give you a realistic look at what it could cost and your options.

To help young members learn to save, Community Financial Credit Union offers free, savings, student checking & student certificate accounts.  With no maintenance fees, low or no minimum balance requirements and deposit incentives, these types of accounts help members plan for college expenses.

“We know the thought of planning to pay for college is intimidating,” said Natalie McLaughlin, Community Financial senior education partnership coordinator.  “That is why we encourage student beginning in elementary school to think about college and get actively involved in saving so they can reach their dreams.”

Planning for college is one of the biggest steps to making the post-high school years successful for the student and parents.  It starts with understanding the true costs and learning the best ways to get your students on the road to financial independence.  There are a number if government & non-profit sites that can help you start the process and stay on track.  Check out these examples, and then get started!

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