Ways to Help Pay for College

As fast as children grow, so does the cost to educate them which has more than tripled in the past 20 years. Whether you have 18 years to prepare or your son or daughter is packing right now, you’ll have to decide how to foot the bill. If you plan on paying for all or part of your child's college education, you’ll need to develop a savings plan as early as possible.

The most common way to finance an education is with student loans. While most student loans do offer attractive repayment options, many students are dismayed when they are still paying for their education 5, 10, or even 20 years after graduation. If this is a situation you and your college-bound child would like to avoid, there is good news: opportunities for funding your child’s education are diverse as the career paths they afford.

Private scholarships 

There are thousands of private scholarships awarded every year that fall outside of the university’s domain. Private scholarships are not limited to students with perfect grades and packed resumes. Artistic talent, creative writing skills, lineage, interest in a particular field of study or being a member of an underrepresented group can all help you secure a private scholarship. However deadlines can be as early as July, more than a full-year before the student plans to enter college, so scout out and apply for scholarships early.

Section 529 plans 

Section 529 plans are state-sponsored college savings programs. The two major types are Prepaid Tuition Plans, which lock in current tuition rates, and State College Savings Plans, which offer more flexible investing options. Both are useful ways for families to save for their children's college education. If you are planning to use a 529 plan, dedicate a specific dollar amount per month to add to the account. Funds in a 529 plan are taxed at the student’s tax rate, and can be transferred to another individual if they aren’t needed.

College controlled aid 

Your individual college may be able to offer a short-term installment plan that splits your tuition into equal monthly payments. Many schools also offer their own merit scholarships.

Military aid 

The U.S. Armed Forces offer several programs to provide students with money for school. The most well know is the Montgomery G.I. Bill that provides cash education incentives to encourage students to join and serve a tour of duty.

Finally, don’t forget to enlist the student’s help. Money earned from a part-time job, including work/study jobs can cover incidentals, such as books. Keep an open line of communication with your child as they will not be learning about personal finance at college, but from you.

Need help understanding your student loans?  Unsure what programs are available to help you pay back your debt and get your finances in order?  MMI now offers student loan counseling.  Our trained counselors can help you understand your options and create a plan to get your student loan debt under control.

Jesse Campbell photo.

Jesse Campbell is the Content Manager at MMI, with over ten years of experience creating valuable educational materials that help families through everyday and extraordinary financial challenges.

  • Better Business Bureau A+ rating Better Business Bureau
    MMI is proud to have achieved an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB), a nonprofit organization focused on promoting and improving marketplace trust. The BBB investigates charges of fraud against both consumers and businesses, sets standards for truthfulness in advertising, and evaluates the trustworthiness of businesses and charities, providing a score from A+ (highest) to F (lowest).
  • Financial Counseling Association of America Financial Counseling Association of America
    MMI is a proud member of the Financial Counseling Association of America (FCAA), a national association representing financial counseling companies that provide consumer credit counseling, housing counseling, student loan counseling, bankruptcy counseling, debt management, and various financial education services.
  • Trustpilot Trustpilot
    MMI is rated as “Excellent” (4.9/5) by reviewers on Trustpilot, a global, online consumer review platform dedicated to openness and transparency. Since 2007, Trustpilot has received over 116 million customer reviews for nearly 500,000 different websites and businesses. See what others are saying about the work we do.
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development - Equal Housing Opportunity Department of Housing and Urban Development
    MMI is certified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to provide consumer housing counseling. The mission of HUD is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD provides support services directly and through approved, local agencies like MMI.
  • Council on Accreditation Council On Accreditation
    MMI is proudly accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA), an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. COA’s thorough, peer-reviewed accreditation process is designed to ensure that organizations like MMI are providing the highest standard of service and support for clients and employees alike.
  • National Foundation for Credit Counseling National Foundation for Credit Counseling
    MMI is a longstanding member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), the nation’s largest nonprofit financial counseling organization. Founded in 1951, the NFCC’s mission is to promote financially responsible behavior and help member organizations like MMI deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.