The average student loan debt for a college graduate in 2016 was $37,172, according to Forbes. That’s a lot of debt to be saddled with when starting a career. However, you can help your children avoid student loan debt by looking into some alternatives:
Save Early This takes years of forethought, but it can be one of the best ways to pay a large chunk of college expenses. Start contributing to a 529 college savings plan as soon as your child is born. Put in only $100 a month from birth and a high school graduate will have about $40,000—enough money to fund two years of going to a public college. If your child is working part-time or during the summer, they can also contribute to the fund.
Payment Plans Many colleges offer monthly installment plans that stretch out payments over the course of a year or several years instead of requiring a lump sum before classes start. Payment plans can include four years of tuition, and some can be paid years in advance at current prices. Some college costs aren’t included in payment plans, such as room and board, books, supplies, and personal items.
Recruitment Scholarships If your child has been accepted to a college that they’re overqualified for from an admissions perspective, they may be eligible for a recruitment scholarship from the school. These are used to recruit students who stand out the most in their applicant pool.
Advanced High School Courses Some college credits can be earned in high school by taking Advanced Placement classes. Students can graduate from college a semester early or even sooner, saving you money.
Community College Spending the first two years at a community college can save them a lot of money on education. They can also live at home to save money. If doing this, your kids will have to check with their academic advisor at the community college to ensure they’re taking the right classes to transfer to a four-year college. Otherwise, you’ll be wasting money on classes that won’t count toward their degree.
Employer Assistance Your employer may offer scholarships for your children. If your child is working part-time while attending college, their employer may also offer a tuition reimbursement program that will pay a large part of the college bill.