For years, colleges and universities have presented to families in traditional settings. With COVID-19 upon us, while the content remains the same, the method to which schools present is changing. Schools are now utilizing virtual presentations and tours. Contact the school of your interest and inquire as to their method and ask if it will remain.
Below is information that will help make college more affordable for your student:
Various savings accounts
- ESA (Education Savings Account or Educational IRA): You can save $2,000 per year per child (after taxes) and it is tax free. You will not pay taxes when you withdraw the money for educational purposes. Income ranges do apply.
- 529 plan [or Qualified Tuition Plan (QTP) named after section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code]: You are able to contribute much higher amounts than an ESA. Generally, there are no income limits or age restrictions and you are not restricted to your state of residence. You will need to determine if there are restrictions when transferring benefits to another child.
- UTMA/UGMA accounts: The account is in the name of your child, but controlled by a custodian, who controls this account until the child reaches the age of 21 (UTMA) and 18 (UGMA). Funds can be used for expenses other than college, but you cannot change the beneficiary.
At this point, it is critical that to state the obvious that is the sooner one begins to save, the better off one will be towards meeting their goal. For example, according to Finaid.org if you save $10 per week when your child is born, by the time the child turns 17 years old, with 4% interest, you will have saved $12,663.44. If you wait until the child turns 4 to start saving, they must save $56.12 per week to achieve the same amount. This represents a 30% savings increase from compounded interest.
Courses taken in high school
Having a child take Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses greatly benefits him or her and reduces costs later. Ohio’s College Credit Plus Program, which is a dual enrollment program for students in grades 7-12, allows students to take college courses and receive college and high school credit simultaneously. Visit ohiohighered.org for more information.
The following information is not so much planning, but an awareness of aid avenues.
Applying for various outside scholarships
While a student is in high school, visit regularly with your HS guidance counselors. Outside companies that offer scholarships often view high schools as a distribution center and send information to the guidance counseling office.
Scholarship search engines
Another option is searching on fastweb.com for potential scholarship opportunities. This is a legitimate search engine and provides the applicant information on themselves, such as HS GPA, standardized test scores, involvement in school (student government, debate, drama, athletics, etc.), involvement in the local community (Scouting, Habitat for Humanity, homeless shelters, etc.) and submit the information. The students will receive, on average, three to four emails back with matches and links for the applicant to review and exercise due diligence.
State aid programs
Most states have various merit- and need-based aid programs. Ohio has several, but one is called the Ohio College Opportunity Grant (OCOG). This is predicated on the financial strength of the applicant and family (AGI, assets, untaxed benefits, etc.). Some states have merit based and need-based programs.
Federal aid programs
Through the completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), aid offerings will be determined. Those offerings can include grants, work study and federal loans.
Financial aid office
This becomes key as you begin applying to colleges. Whether this be four-, two- or one-year schools or programs or public/private institutions, check with the financial aid office for offerings. Generally, private institutions will have offerings that many public institutions do not have. You will want to inquire about merit- and need-based offerings, as well as departmental scholarships.
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