A good college education is more important in today’s job market than it has ever been. It is nearly impossible to make a comfortable living without at least a 2-year degree from a community college. Parents today understand that sending their kids to college is the best way to help them succeed in life. It can be tempting to throw all of your resources toward that college education, even if it means cutting into your retirement savings. While college is important, you should never sacrifice your future stability to pay for tuition and books.
Fewer Options for Retirement Funds
Your child has a multitude of resources to help pay for tuition. Your retirement funds, on the other hand, are strictly limited to what you can invest in them right now. Help your child find alternatives to paying for tuition straight out of your pocket. Find out if your state has a special savings account option for tuition. The federal and state governments have created many different ways to help students get the education they need in order to become productive members of today’s society. Federal and state help with the financial needs of retired seniors is far less available.
Finding the Right Scholarships and Grants
Your young student’s performance in school could be a powerful investment toward his or her college costs. Scholarships are available from hundreds of different organizations for hundreds of different qualifications. A quick visit to the high school counselor will introduce you to thousands of dollars in potential scholarships and grants that you child could become eligible for. If you look into scholarship options early enough, your child could work toward meeting specific qualifications throughout high school, which could mean that you have to pay very little toward college.
Less Expensive College Alternatives
If the scholarship and grant money isn’t enough to cover a traditional 4-year college tuition, some alternatives can cut down on the costs of a degree. Consider sending your child to a community college for the first two years. Community colleges are ideal bridges to 4-year institutions because they allow the student to live at home and become used to being independent while providing all of the lower division courses necessary to transfer to a university. Your student can also test out of basic courses by passing a single test, the College Level Examination Program (CLEP). Passing CLEP cuts down on the number of classroom hours necessary for degree completion and therefore the cost of education. Working at least a part time job is another way to help offset college costs.
Staying Independent during Retirement Years
Eliminating the financial burden of college by dipping into your retirement savings is simply shifting that burden from right now to later. If your retirement funds are not adequate when you are older, you could eventually need to ask your children for help. It is better to help your children deal with financial hardships while they are still learning how to become independent than to need to ask for help when they have their own families to manage later.
Jessica Bosari writes about personal finance for Billeater, a site dedicated to helping families with money saving tips and advice.
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