When did you first start thinking about your child going to college?
It’s never too early to encourage them to attend college and to start saving early to help them.
Some parents may begin considering these questions when their children are very young or even before they are born.
Whatever their age, you can begin planning for their future, especially the earlier the better.
Talk About College
As your child grows up, talk about going to college as something that happens as a natural progression after high school.
Encourage them to start thinking about where they would like to go early on.
In doing so, you should also listen and have an open conversation, as they may have their hopes on postponing college for a year or pursue a different route, such as learning a trade. You shouldn’t push them into going to school before they are ready or if they are set on a different path.
However, in most cases, a college education can still be a benefit.
For example, becoming an electrician does not require a degree, but it could be useful if your child ever wants to make a career change or to run their own business.
You might discuss how they could combine ambitions, such as college and a military career.
Make Financial Plans Now
Don’t wait until their last year of high school to get sticker shock from looking at the cost of education. Investigating the options now can mean you are better prepared in the future.
For example, many parents and their children might not realize that there are loans and savings accounts parents can use for their education.
A 529 account is one you can set up with the child as beneficiary to cover educational expenses.
You can also take out a Parent PLUS loan to help pay for their undergraduate education. Once repayment period has begun, a private lender may offer you a refinancing option that will result in a lower monthly payment, freeing up extra money and minimizing interest payments over the life of the loan.
Go Back to School
If you did not have the opportunity to go to college, one of the best ways to set an example is to do so yourself. Even if you only take one class at a time, your commitment to education will make a strong impression.
You may also be eligible for grants, loans or scholarships, or your employer might pay for your education.
Encourage yours to consider college as a unique time in their life for learning. Read to them, and talk to them about the world to make them more curious about it.
If they only see higher education as a means to a career, they might wonder what the point is if there are jobs they can take without a degree.
Talking about it as a way to broaden their horizons and learn more about the world helps them understand that there is more to going to school than getting a degree and a good job at the end of it all.