Seven Things Every Parent Needs to Know about Paying for College

Barry Lenson

Seven Things Every Parent Needs to Know about Paying for College

Do you have a son or daughter who is applying to college this year? Could you use some help paying for it?

If you answered yes to those questions, you might think that all you can do to pay for college is fill out the FAFSA and talk to the financial aid offices at the colleges where your kid is applying. Not so. There are other sources of funding that you and you student can access after getting accepted . . .

1. The college career office. Many students never visit their colleges’ career offices until they are about to graduate. That can be a big mistake, since those offices can do a lot to help students find paying jobs during their years on campus. They also maintain lists of employers who are visiting campus to interview students. Encourage your kid to stop by.

2. The office that sets up work study jobs on campus. Urge your son or daughter to find the office that handles campus employment, and to visit it shortly after arriving on campus. It could be the college career office or the office of student life. And don’t feel that work study will interfere with coursework. Most on-campus jobs, like checking books out at the library or staffing the front desk in the athletic center, allow students to study and work at the same time.

3. The residence office.  Your son or daughter might not be able to get a position as a Residence Assistant (RA) until senior year. But encourage your kid to find out who selects RAs for the school, and to apply when these plum assignments become available. Getting full or partial room and board for only one year can keep a nice chunk of change in your family’s bank accounts.

4. The office of alumni affairs. Encourage your kid to visit the alumni office and ask about appearing on student panels before groups of alumni. And if your kid is part of a performing group on campus, that group should perform at alumni functions. Why? Because alumni love to hire current students for summer jobs and for employment during the school year. The faster your kid can start networking with them, the quicker the opportunities will come.

5. The head of the department for your student’s major.  If your son or daughter is interested in majoring in sociology, for example, a visit to the head of that department can pay some financial rewards. Have your kid ask about working on research projects that faculty members are currently undertaking or about summer work for faculty members. Many kids sit around waiting to be noticed and tapped for these assignments. Encourage your kid to speak up and express interest instead.

6. Consider having your child take some of their college courses online.  Remember, there is no requirement that your son or daughter take 100% of all courses on campus. By encouraging your child to take a few college classes online, you can probably trim costs considerably.

Also . . . 

7. Encourage your son or daughter to find a position as a campus representative. As campus reps, students get a chance to earn money while representing a company or product they enjoy.

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