Parents of high school juniors and seniors begin wondering how they will pay for their children’s college education as another school year starts. The costs can seem overwhelming, and it might feel like they are putting a financial burden on their family or their child. Fortunately there are many financial resources available to help lighten the load. Most families piece together a variety of programs to help make the cost more affordable. Here are some of the many financial resources parents are using to help pay for their child’s college education. Some parents have been setting aside money for college since their child was born. Even a small amount set aside every week can grow into a surprising sum over the course of seventeen or eighteen years. 529 saving accounts is a tax-advantaged investment plan designed to encourage saving, usually for a child or grandchild. All withdrawals from 529 plans for qualified education expenses are free from federal income tax. While each state is different, many states also offer state tax-deferred growth and tax-free withdrawals. Grants is money which is applied directly to the cost of tuition. Grants may come from the federal government, your state government, the college itself, and some private organizations.

Paying for college

Unless your child withdraws before completing a semester, grants usually do not have to be repaid. Scholarships can come from many sources, such as the college, the community, your church, local and civic organizations, corporations, and contests. While some scholarships are granted automatically by the college as part of a financial aid package, most students need to aggressively search out and apply for them on their own. Once again, this is money that usually does not have to be repaid unless the student fails to meet some requirement of the scholarship. Your undergraduate or graduate student can earn money to help pay for education expenses through the Federal Work-Study Program. He or she will earn at least the current federal minimum wage, but it may be more depending on the type of work and the skills required for the position. Employment is another option. Many students find jobs themselves to help pay for their college expenses. Some start in high school, or look for opportunities around their college schedule. It is also a good idea to encourage your child to try to earn additional money during winter, spring and summer breaks. There are several available Veterans Service Organization Scholarships from various military organizations in addition to the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) Scholarships. he U.S. Department of Education also makes grant funds available to students whose parent or guardian died as a result of military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after the events of 9/11. Students and their parents also have the ability to borrow money through federal and private student loans. This is money that will have to be repaid, usually upon graduation. Be sure to sign up for my “Paying For College” newsletter so you’ll always be able to receive the latest information on college financial aid.