Re­duce Col­lege Debt

Focus of SWFL - - News - FO­CUS of SWFL 2014 41

Col­lege is a sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment and how to pay for it can be a ma­jor source of con­cern for par­ents and stu­dents. How­ever, there are ways to re­duce the amount of debt you take on when pre­par­ing for higher ed­u­ca­tion. Out­stand­ing stu­dent loan debt has now reached $1.2 tril­lion, ac­cord­ing to 2013 es­ti­mates from the Con­sumer Fi­nan­cial Pro­tec­tion Bureau. Yet there are ways to help re­duce the amount a fam­ily or stu­dent has to bor­row to fund a col­lege ed­u­ca­tion, if fam­i­lies start early. “It’s never too late for fam­i­lies of col­lege-bound stu­dents to re­duce costs, if they con­sider op­tions well be­fore se­nior year,” said Cyn­thia Tid­well, CEO and pres­i­dent of Royal Neigh­bors of Amer­ica, one of the first women-led life in­sur­ers in the U.S. Royal Neigh­bors has also awarded more than $4 mil­lion in col­lege scholarships since 1962. “The key is to think cre­atively — whether it’s earn­ing col­lege cred­its in high school, us­ing fi­nan­cial tools that al­low for cash sav­ings, or re­search­ing schol­ar­ship op­tions — don’t mort­gage your own fi­nan­cial fu­ture or sad­dle your child with debt that could keep her or him from reach­ing their dreams,” Tid­well added.

Four Ways to Re­duce Col­lege Costs

1. Earn col­lege credit in high school. Many high schools of­fer stu­dents the op­por­tu­nity to earn dual high school and col­lege credit, be­fore col­lege, through ad­vanced place­ment (AP) cour­ses. You can learn more about AP pro­grams on­line. 2. Con­sider a com­mu­nity col­lege. Aver­age an­nual com­mu­nity col­lege tu­ition and fees are less than half those at pub­lic four-year col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties and one-tenth those at pri­vate four-year col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties, ac­cord­ing to a 2008 re­port from the Na­tional Cen­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion Sta­tis­tics. 3. Learn about col­lege sav­ings fi­nan­cial op­tions. There are many dif­fer­ent fi­nan­cial prod­ucts to help save for col­lege. Un­der cer­tain cir­cum­stances, some col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties lock in tu­ition for all four years. Even cer­tain life in­sur­ance poli­cies of­fer cash sav­ings op­tions to help pay for ex­penses such as col­lege tu­ition, wed­dings, or start­ing up a busi­ness. Look for per­ma­nent or whole life poli­cies with cash value ac­cu­mu­la­tion op­tions. 4. Re­search scholarships early. Scholarships are avail­able for tra­di­tional and non-tra­di­tional stu­dents, but don’t wait un­til se­nior year to re­search. Some re­quire or­ga­ni­za­tional mem­ber­ship, vol­un­teer hours, or cri­te­ria that may take time for the stu­dent to be el­i­gi­ble. “Royal Neigh­bors of Amer­ica be­lieves that ev­ery woman and her fam­ily should be fi­nan­cially se­cure and that ed­u­ca­tion is the key to a brighter fu­ture,” said Tid­well. “Don’t be dis­cour­aged by ris­ing col­lege costs. There are ways to save if you plan ahead.” To learn more about scholarships and other mem­ber pro­grams avail­able through Royal Neigh­bors of Amer­ica:


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