Many parents worry about their ability to fund all or part of their children’s college experience…but what if someone else paid for college?
Below, our college financial planning experts share some other sources to explore for college funding besides your own pocket.
Meet the Experts
State Bank of Cross Plains has enlisted two internal experts to share insight and guidance as your family makes plans to save for and pay for college:
Jayne Deutmeyer is a Certified Trust and Financial Planner and a mother who has helped two of her own children navigate education and career decisions beyond high school.
Brent Landrum is a Personal Banker who recently graduated after returning to school as a non-traditional student paying his own way as an adult.
A Little Research Can Really Pay Off
By Jayne Deutmeyer, Certified Trust & Financial Advisor (and mother)
The majority of my role with clients involves helping find effective ways to balance your saving and investing in order to meet all your financial goals, including saving for college. However, I also encourage people to research other sources for funding post-secondary education. These sources can include:
- GRANTS. Grants are awarded based on financial need and do not need to be repaid except in certain circumstances, such as withdrawing from your program early or dropping to part-time student status. If you qualify, federal and state grants are usually part of the financial aid package your chosen university sends you after you fill out the FAFSA. However, the government isn’t the only source of grant funding. Some universities, trade schools, and private organizations or businesses also offer grant opportunities. The S. Department of Education website is a good place to start your research and learn more about grants.
- In the past, scholarships were reserved for elite athletes and high-performing academics. However, scholarships have expanded to reward students who volunteer, who are pursuing certain careers, or who simply belong to a particular organization. Your employer might offer corporate-sponsored scholarships, too. Many banks, civic organizations (such as the Optimists Club), health care organizations, and churches offer scholarships. A great place to start is your high school guidance office. Many high schools compile a list of local opportunities. You can also check with your employer, any groups you participate in, and your local community foundation. Finally, remember to check your university’s website for criteria for scholarship consideration. While many schools use your college application for scholarship consideration, you might have to submit by the early admission deadline or include some additional information.
- WORK STUDY. While work study isn’t “free money”—you have to work for the reimbursement—work study often offers more convenient work assignments right on campus that don’t require transportation obstacles and sometimes enable students to do homework if it’s not busy. A good example would be working at the front desk of your dorm. In addition, some local businesses give hiring priority to work study candidates because the student’s salary is subsidized by the work study arrangement.
- TUITION REIMBURSEMENT. Tuition reimbursement tends to be more popular with working adults who want to go back to school to finish a degree or earn a Master’s degree related to their current job or career path, but this opportunity exists for some traditional undergraduate students, as well. Research companies online who offer tuition reimbursement for young people attending college for the first time. Usually, there is criteria attached, such as pursuing a degree related to the organization (like food service or business), a requirement of working at that job while attending college or working there for a certain amount of time before or after qualifying for reimbursement, or working in a specific area of the country, such as underprivileged or impoverished communities. ROTC is another example of tuition reimbursement. These opportunities are often underutilized and offer a lot of potential in many cases.
- Sometimes relatives—grandparents, for example—ask how they can help with higher education. There are a variety of funds and investments we can establish for this purpose. However, people can also “gift” a certain amount of money each year. You may be able to avoid filing a gift tax return if the person providing the gift sends payment directly to the college or university rather than gifting the money to the child or grandchild first. Check with your accountant and/or financial advisor for limits and rules regarding monetary gifts.
Be sure to consider all options when funding your child’s college or trade school education. A little research and “elbow grease” may literally pay off.
Finding Win-Win Opportunities
By Brent Landrum, SBCP employee and recent college graduate
In my experience both as a student and as a professional, work study arrangements and tuition reimbursement are great ways to ease the stress of college tuition bills while also attaining great life skills and work experience.
Work study opportunities can range from simple book store cashier to department assistance within your major field of study, and it’s all up to the student to find a good fit for them. A number of my college peers saw work study as more than a job and found ways to make it benefit them during and after college. Here are some added benefits you may not think of when it comes to this option:
- Location: A majority of work study jobs are located right on campus, which is great for those students who do not have access to a vehicle. You also save on gas money if the student doesn’t have to drive to and from their job!
- Financial: The student can earn money to put toward tuition costs or any other expenses. Use of your paycheck isn’t limited to tuition, which allows for a little more flexibility. For those students who have not had to worry about the concept of working and paying bills, this is a great introduction to the concept before graduation.
- Experience: Work study can be an opportunity for the student to gain experience related to their academic studies. For example, a graphic design major could find a work study job in the communications department creating various PR pieces for their school. Think of this type of work as added experience for a resume after graduation. If you find the right fit, your work study job can offer similar benefits compared to an internship.
Tuition reimbursement was an option I personally should have explored more during my time in college. For those students who have goals of working for certain companies or are already with one who offers this option, you can ease the stress of tuition quite a bit. Let’s look at this option a bit more to see why tuition reimbursement might be a win-win for all involved:
- Employer benefits: If the student likes where they are working or are with a company that is related to their field of study, find out if there are tuition reimbursement options. Some employers may find the possibility of retaining an employee long-term through such assistance programs a sound investment.
- Time dedication: Putting in your time at a job while still a student or shortly after graduation can earn the student valued experience and leverage within a company.
- Non-traditional benefits: As someone who took some time off from college and then went back to school after working full-time, I can attest to the fact that tuition reimbursement can be a great tool for paying tuition and making your time away from school even more valuable.
What’s important for the student and parents to keep in mind is that you should be thinking ahead. Make work meaningful and enjoyable, if possible. College is a time to explore various careers and if the student can gain experience AND learn more about their chosen career path while also paying off tuition, that adds up to many life and financial benefits!
Watch for more information on planning for college expenses each month in this newsletter. If you would like help in planning appropriately for college tuition, contact JDeutmeyer@SBCP.bank or call 608-798-5233.