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Starting college on the right foot

keep your higher education dream a reality

Pursuing a Higher Education

It’s no secret that college and grad school can be expensive. The good news is there are lots of options to help keep your higher education dream a reality.

Do your homework

Few have the luxury of paying for a higher education without some sort of financial assistance. With some research and a little time invested, you can set yourself up for “doable” post-graduate debt.

  • Where do you want to go? Higher education comes in many forms and so do the costs. Public, private, online, in-person, 2-year and 4-year institutions all offer quality educations. Don’t overlook any avenues. Talk with family, friends, guidance counselors and visit college fairs.
  • What can you afford? Make that list! Tuition, on- and off-campus housing, food, clothing, books, transportation, entertainment and emergencies. Be conservative; figure out what you can afford with no financial aid so that you have a realistic idea of where you’re starting from.
  • Explore “free” money. Scholarships and grants are a great place to start. Check out Scholarships.com for opportunities for financial aid that you don’t have to pay back. If you’re already working and want to go back to school, see if your employer offers a program where they pay upfront or reimburse you later. For those who choose to serve, the military offers some wonderful options – see if the school of your choice has ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps).
  • Financial aid resources. Along with applying for aid through the financial offices at your desired schools, make sure you visit the Department of Education’s FAFSA.gov. It’s a national registry that can provide a plethora of aid options and it’s free!
  • Student loan vs. personal loan. Student loans traditionally offer lower interest rates than a personal loan. Plus, student loans defer loan payments and don’t accrue interest until after you graduate.
  • 529 plans. You may look at your little one and think there’s plenty of time to save for a higher education but planning early is never a bad move. A 529 plan offers tax-advantages, can be opened with a minimal amount and is a wonderful option for any family or friends who want to make contributions in lieu of birthday and special occasion gifts.

Savings options for higher ed costs


Maximizing your money

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How to plan financially for college; from cradle to graduation
A crash course in funding an education A college’s sticker price is the amount advertised as the full rate for tuition and fees before financial need, scholarships and other aid are factored. Net price is the amount that a family pays after aid and scholarships Ð usually offsetting the sticker price shock. The average tuition and fees at an […]
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Paying for college: How to hit the books without emptying your wallet
It’s your last year of high school Ð or maybe you’ve already graduated – and the college thing is really heating up. Until now, it’s all been about getting good grades and thinking about where to apply. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, my friend. The real fun starts when you realize it […]
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Save for college and get financial aid
Financing education is a hot topic, with as many myths as there are facts. Does saving now eliminate eligibility for financial aid later? Are 529 plans a bad idea? Saving shouldn’t be stressful, and the benefits of saving for college can be substantial. Before committing to a long-term program, consider the following: It’s cheaper to […]
mobile banking for college students

You’ve been accepted! Now what?

The cost of a higher education doesn’t end with freshman orientation. Try some of these tips to keep your finances in check.

Saving while studying

  • Flash that card. Many places offer discounted student rates with proof of student ID.
  • Buy used or go online. Textbooks are expensive and most students sell back their books. If you don’t mind a few notes or pre-highlighted pages, you can save money purchasing used textbooks instead of new. eBooks also offer tremendous savings – sometimes hundreds of dollars less than traditional textbooks.
  • Work-Study programs. These on- and off-campus jobs are a great way for financial aid that you don’t have to pay back and although highly-coveted, don’t have the same competition as grants and scholarships. Check with your Financial Aid office for more info.
  • Credit cards for better or worse. Your first credit card can help you begin your credit history BUT you don’t want to fall into the easy habit of charging everything. That morning latte may seem innocent but one a day for a month can add up and now you’re also paying interest. College grads get lots of offers for cards; look them over, get the one with the best rates and whenever possible, pay off the balance at the end of the month instead of just the minimum. It’s a great way to start establishing that credit history.

More tips for money management

How debit and credit card fraud works; ways to protect yourself
You just checked your bank accounts, like you normally do everyday, but today there is a big problem — your checking account is negative! You were sure that you had enough money to cover your transactions, but what about those three transactions for $400 at Walmart in Texas? You’ve never been to Texas and your […]
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Money management for teens
Financial responsibility plays an important role in growing up and becoming an independent adult. The sooner you learn and become comfortable with the responsibilities of finances, the quicker you’ll be on the road to financial success. The following five tips provide teens a starting point and pathway towards a strong financial future. 1. Start saving […]
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