By Aisha Dhorajiwala
A high school graduate usually earns eighty-four percent less than a person that has graduated from a four year college (College Atlas). This makes saving for college an important financial priority. A college education can be very pricey. Seventy percent of Americans attend four year universities, but because of high costs less than two thirds will graduate (College Atlas). Many students have to get jobs to help pay for their tuition, but balancing both school and work can be very difficult which is why students should start saving for college as early as possible.
With so many ways to save, picking the best option for your family can be difficult. A savings account is a good place to start saving for college. Especially if you do not have a long time before you go to college, a savings account is also a great way to make sure you have a fund for emergencies in college - like extra book costs, higher than expected fees, etc. Students can start these on their own at some banks. (Visit Plan2Achieve.org)
If you have a longer time to plan, parents or grandparents can put a certain amount into a college savings account every month and the total will add up quickly after a few years. The earlier you start the less loans you will have to take out. Specific college savings accounts with tax benefits are best for this type of savings. (Learn more visit Illinois’s plan at www.brightstartsavings.com or you can look at other state plans too.)
Scholarships are another great way to save money on college costs. According to a counselor from Lane Tech High School, “Most students don’t do much research on scholarships or don’t apply for the smaller ones. You should apply for all scholarships because every single penny counts when saving for college.” Not many students have access to information like this. Many students have to figure out how to save for college by themselves. According to Sabrina Lopez, a senior at Lane Tech High school, “Many people I know do not go to a school that is as privileged as Lane Tech. Many students at these schools don’t know how to get more financial aid or know about other options such as community college.” Without access to information like this, the chance of people not attending college is higher.
To find more ways to save and more scholarship opportunities, the internet is a good place to start. Great websites to look for scholarships are unigo. com, scholarships.com, collegegreenlight.com and chooseyourfuture.cps.edu. Don’t forget to talk to your school counselor for more information!