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Securing Your Future: Tips for a Successful College Planning Journey

Securing Your Future: Tips for a Successful College Planning Journey

Education expenses represent a significant financial commitment that accompanies us throughout our lives. Whether you’re considering having children in the future or you have teens nearing college age, we are here to equip you with essential knowledge and guidance for success in education planning.

Plan Based on Career Development

Work with your children to create a plan based on career development. When it comes to selecting a college, it is crucial to consider schools with programs and styles that align with future goals and aspirations. While small details are important, keep your eyes on the big picture: future success! Research the schools your children are considering and be sure to explore the degree programs each school offers to ensure they are properly equipped to help develop the skills and knowledge needed. The right college can make all the difference! 

Private vs Public Universities

When selecting a school, it is important to understand the details of the school and program. Each college or university offers a different price level dependent on many factors including program length, region/state, and type of educational institution. 

One of the most significant differences will be whether the school is public or private. Public colleges are mainly government-funded. They tend to have a wider selection of programs, more research opportunities, and a larger student body. Private colleges rely heavily on tuition, fees, donations, and endowments for funding and can be either for-profit or non-profit organizations. They often have more money available for grants and scholarships in addition to federal financial aid. 

The following are the estimated average costs of a full year of college at private and public colleges (via LendingTree):

  • Community college (public, in-state): $4,864
  • Community college (public, out-of-state): $8,622
  • Private community college: $15,460
  • Public two-year (in-district): $17,580
  • Public four-year (in-state): $25,290
  • Public four-year (out-of-state): $40,940
  • Private four-year: $50,900

College Savings Plan

A college savings plan is a crucial piece of the college planning puzzle and the foundation of any successful college financing plan. Think of your savings as a down payment on the total cost of college, similar to a down payment on a large purchase like a car or a home. 

Only 33% of families use a college savings plan to save for their child’s education. Whether you’re a new parent or already have children nearing their college years, it’s never too early or late to start saving to give them the best opportunities for success. Setting aside money over a long period of time takes discipline and even sacrifice, but can yield surprisingly positive results when done regularly. Work with a trusted financial advisor to help you navigate the process and create a plan tailored to your own goals and budget.

Financial Aid

Financial aid is a broad term for money used to help pay for college. It can include loans, grants, scholarships, and work-study funds. Ideally, you want to get the most from grants and scholarships to therefore have the least amount of loans possible. 

Colleges are the largest source of grant aid, with annual awards based on both need and merit. The federal government has two central grants, the Pell Grant, and the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, which are reserved for those with high financial need. The federal government’s main contribution to financial aid is student loans, both Direct Subsidized and Direct Unsubsidized, which are available to all students regardless of their financial needs. 

Many colleges will have a net price calculator available on their website which can be used to estimate how much grant aid a student will receive from the school based on their financial and academic information. Use this to compare your estimated out-of-pocket cost at several schools and factor affordability into your college planning decisions. 

College is a significant investment, and understanding the financial aspects from college funding to school selection is crucial. The Blakely Financial team is here to help. Contact us today to get your college planning journey started.

Blakely Financial, Inc. is an independent financial planning and investment management firm that provides clarity, insight, and guidance to help our clients attain their financial goals. Engage with the entire Blakely Financial team at WWW.BLAKELYFINANCIAL.COM  to see what other financial tips we can provide towards your financial well-being.
Commonwealth Financial Network® or Blakely Financial does not provide legal or tax advice. You should consult a legal or tax professional regarding your individual situation.