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Financial Literacy: Funding Your Child’s College Dreams
Posted by Dawn Sanford Mon, January 23, 2012 9:50 am EDT
With the chill of winter in the air, for those in the college admissions process, this is the time to heat up the search for college financial aid. January 1 just marked the opening of the federal financial aid application season for the upcoming academic year.
Helping your child get a college education does not have to be a debt-creating experience. There are multiple sources of free financial aid options available to you and your child that can help offset the expense of your shared college dreams. Parents and students just have to be tenacious in identifying those resources and following through accordingly. Remember, identifying and utilizing free monies to pay for college can keep you and your child free of the burden of student loan debt.
For example, students can apply for federal and state grants by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It’s now FAFSA filing season, so don’t delay in submitting your application. The adage about the early bird getting the worm applies here as well. Have your child visit his or her high school guidance counselor for more information. Some school districts offer financial aid nights so parents can learn more about the application process. In addition, look for a College Goal Sunday financial aid application event in your community.
Did you know that your child can also complete scholarship applications through online resources, such as Fastweb? Scholarships offered at Florida State College can be found on the College’s scholarship page and many can be applied for online. Remember, scholarships are not always awarded based on academics; there are scholarships for many types of situations. But your child must apply early in order to be considered! In addition, many employers offer tuition assistance or tuition reimbursement programs, so make sure to check with your human resources department and discuss these options before taking out loans to pay for your child’s college dreams.
Furthermore, it’s important to create a budget to see how much money you have to put toward assisting your child while he or she is attending college. It would be smart to have your child create a budget so as to understand how to manage his or her money even if it’s free money from you. For budget worksheets and interactive budget calculators, visit Florida State College’s financial literacy page and select "financial literacy resources."
Lastly, putting your child through college doesn’t have to cause undue financial hardship for you or your child. If you take the right steps at the right time toward securing grants and scholarships, and create a plan for managing how the money will be spent, you and your child can create a debt-free college experience. Don’t let the chill of the season slow you down from getting the resources you need.