With college tuition on the rise every year, students and parents are left scrambling for ways to cover the costs. Nutmeg State Financial Credit Union is offering its expertise to Connecticut families and prospective college students to help them determine the most responsible way of paying for their children’s education. The team at Nutmeg can help decipher student loans, financial aid and grants, and have experience inafting personal financial plans that can be paid off quickly.
“Many people can easily get overwhelmed at the daunting cost of tuition and the number of options there are to pay for college,” explained John Holt, President & CEO of Nutmeg State. “Our job is first and foremost to make sure that our members feel confident to effectively manage their money and get their kids through college without overwhelming debt.”
Holt shares the most effective ways to responsibly plan and save for a financially successful college experience:
APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIPS – There are numerous local and national scholarships available for students, which can often be renewed annually. While it can be tedious submitting applications for a large number of scholarships, these grants will cost nothing and do not need to be repaid. It may seem appealing to apply for scholarships from large companies that are giving away large amounts of money, but receiving a few small, local scholarships will add up and may end up saving a few thousand dollars per year. It is important to keep in mind that college will deduct scholarship amounts from the financial aid it would have otherwise given the student.
FILL OUT FAFSA – The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) often presents the cheapest and most effective option for those looking to borrow money for college. A FAFSA needs to be completed in order to receive any federal, state, or college money, as well as some scholarships and grants. By providing the borrower’s income, dependency status, and savings, financial need can be determined and used to save thousands of dollars off the “sticker price” for tuition offered by colleges and universities. FAFSA’s must be completed by January 1st of the academic year you are applying for.
INVESTIGATE GRANT OPTIONS – Schools will often give away thousands of dollars annually for students who demonstrate special interests, outstanding characteristics or have met certain academic qualifications. These grants may come in the form of cash grants or tuition discounts. There is also an extensive list of grants offered based on financial need. Check with your school if you already know where you will be attending school, or even if you are already enrolled in college. Just because you have already started your college career doesn’t mean that you have to stop applying for and receiving money!
ONLY TAKE WHAT YOU NEED – One crucial way to ensure that you won’t be struggling to pay back your student loans years after you complete your education is to simply only borrow what you need. Sometimes, the best idea is to pay back as much of the loan as soon as possible, to prevent the risk of accumulating long-term interest costs. Make a financial plan for successfully chipping away at the money you owe on a weekly basis: If you are able to offset your loans with a small weekly income that can be put towards paying it back, the cost will not seem so daunting to pay back in its entirety.
DISCOVER WORK STUDY PROGRAMS – Federal Work-Study Programs permit eligible students to work on campus to help offset educational expenses and reduce loan obligations. This often serves as an effective way for students from high-income families to get a part-time job rather than applying for grants based on financial need.
USE CREDIT CARDS WISELY – It can be tempting to use credit cards to charge living expenses and incidentals, but look for a card like Nutmeg’s to take advantage of:
- Non-variable (fixed) APR
- No annual fees
- FREE Reward Points program
- No minimum finance charge
- No balance transfer fees
- Identity theft protection
SAVE, SAVE, SAVE! – Whether your child is preparing to leave for college in a matter of weeks or years, the best way to save money is to save early and often. By putting a small chunk of money away on a regular basis, it will be easier to slowly accumulate funds that can be placed toward paying back loans or put towards saving money elsewhere, including textbooks and housing options.
For membership details at Nutmeg State Financial Credit Union and more information about making your college experience financially responsible, visit www.nutmegstatecfu.com.