The average annual cost to attend an Indiana college is $21,740 according to College Tuition Compare. If your head is now spinning, you’re not alone.
Amy Fryman was a single mom and retail banking officer at the time when both her sons were attending college at the same time.
“Saving for two college educations was a struggle for me as I was still paying off my own student loans,” Amy said.
Despite the struggle, Amy found ways to save and involved her sons in the process. She offers these tips for parents.
1. Open a college savings account for your child.
Coverdell Education Savings Accounts and 529 College Savings Plans offer tax benefits. Many schools are now offering 529 Plans, making it easy to get started. These are ideal to open when your children are young. Visit your banker or irs.gov for education savings plan details.
It is never too late to start saving. If your children are older, open a basic kids savings account. Kids’ savings accounts often offer a better interest rate and provide a specific place to set aside college funds.
2. Set up an automatic deposit to the college account.
Utilize your online banking to set up an automatic transfer. Your employer can also direct deposit the funds from your paycheck to the account. Setting aside just $10 each week over 18 years will cover the first year’s tuition and fees at an in-state school.
3. Engage your children in their college funds planning early.
Help your children understand the value of savings and education. Encourage them to save a portion of their gift money and allowance.
Take them with you to the bank or have them watch you log in to your online banking account to transfer funds. Help them track their savings and watch it grow.
Offer guidance when they are older on how to manage money earned. Discuss how they will determine the amount needed for immediate expenses and how much they will set aside for college savings.
4. Encourage taking college credit classes in high school.
Many high schools offer dual high school and college credit classes. Knocking out these classes can reduce college tuition and book expenses.
5. Seek information on scholarships and apply.
Scholarships are often are overlooked. Encourage your high school student to speak to the school guidance department and your local community foundation to get a list of available scholarships as a junior to get a jump-start. Review eligibility and application requirements. Don't forget about the Wilke S and James W Lemon Scholarship offered by The Friendship State Bank.
The scholarship application process is not easy, but neither is forking over hard-earned money for a student loan payment in the years following graduation.
6. Encourage commuting and alternative education opportunities if possible.
“My home is their college dorm and I am the RA is the family joke these days,” Grubbs said.
The average annual room and board costs are $12,565. This cost can be eliminated if you live close to an accredited college. Technical schools and working in an industry where tuition assistance or reimbursement is offered are also great education options.
“We have several in the Tri-State area and I encouraged my kids to pick one verses the traditional university life,” Amy said. “They have both worked while attending college and have balanced their schedules very well.”