Preparing for College

Friday, April 21, 2017

College can be the best four years of your life. It's a time to gain independence, making new friends, and building your future career. How you plan financially today can have a huge impact on your college experience and your lifestyle after college. 

What's your long-term financial plan?

College is a wonderful experience for most people, but it's also an investment. Think about what you plan to major in, what career paths will be open to you after college, and what you can expect from a starting salary. Sure, this might all change over the next four years, but it's important to start thinking now about how your investment will pay off in the future. 

File your FAFSA

Applying for FAFSA is an easy way to see what types of federal financial aid you're eligible for. These come in the form of grants and work-study, which you don't have to pay back, and loans, which you will need to pay back. 

How much do you need to borrow?

Interest rates on student loans can have a wide range, so it's important to make sure you're not borrowing any more than you need to. Find out how much tuition, room and board, and books are at the schools you're applying to. Then figure out how much you have saved for college and whether or not your family is willing to contribute in other ways, like by taking out a home equity line of credit.  

Apply for outside scholarships

There are scholarships for everything. Are you lefthanded? There's a scholarship for that. An athlete with asthma? A vegetarian? There's a scholarship for that. Make sure you explore all the opportunities available to you. That will help lower the cost of college and that means taking out a lower student loan. 

Talk to a financial counselor*

It can be an overwhelming time. Not only are you leaving home for the first time, you're also going through the biggest financial decision you've faced so far. Our financial counselors can help make sure you have all of the information you need to make smart decisions during a stressful time. 

*Financial counseling offered by the credit union is educational only. Financial counseling services are not federally insured by the NCUA and are not obligations of the credit union. Any results produced therefrom are not guaranteed by the credit union or any affiliated entity and may involve investment risk including the loss of principal.