It’s important that your student understands how college is financed, what your expectations are, and what their obligations will be after graduation. Talking through your expectations now is a good way to ensure you both start down this new road in sync. Here are a few tips to get you started:
Completing the FAFSA. If you and your student haven’t already completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), it’s time to fill out this document together as soon as possible. Both of you will need to enter information, and it’s important that your student understand this application is the first step to securing financial aid for college. Completing this application sooner rather than later will help ensure your student meets any important upcoming financial aid deadlines.
Setting expectations. Will you expect your student to get a part-time job and/or take ownership of certain expenses during college? Do you plan to cover certain expenses for them? What is your plan if unexpected expenses arise sometime during the semester? These are good topics to discuss now, while college is still many months away. You may even want to lay out a sample budget together, so your student gets an idea of what expenses to expect in college and how to manage their money on a semester-by-semester basis.
Options for financing. Once you and your student have explored all of the options for free financial aid—including scholarships, grants, work-study—you may still find that you and your student need to find additional money for college. When it comes to borrowing for college, there are numerous options for students and their parents, including federal loans and private loans. Plan to talk through the borrowing options available to your family, and ensure that your student understands them, as well as the responsibility for repayment—with interest—down the road.