6 College Planning Tips for Any Budget

Posted by Greater Midwest Financial Group on Dec 15, 2021 4:00:00 PM

a person in a graduation cap and gown

Planning for college can be a scary task. There are a number of factors that play into the college planning process, and if you’re short on your college-fund, it could make things a lot harder.

Regardless of your budget, there are some things that you can do to get ahead whether you’re a future student trying to set your own budget or a guardian paying for an education.

6 College Planning Tips for Any Budget

1. Know What You Want from College

Knowing what you want to get out of your college education is one of the most important things when planning for college. Having a set plan on your area of study will open up a number of different opportunities for you, both with the institutions you’d like to attend.
If you already know what you’re going to school for, you are also able to involve yourself in activities that may set you up to exceed in your career field even before you into college, which always makes things easier on you.

Depending on the area of study, college might look drastically different. Can you go to a community college for the first few years and then transfer? Will you need additional schooling beyond a bachelor’s degree? Answering some of these questions will help create a roadmap, even if you don’t have the exact school picked out just yet.

If you’re starting the planning journey early and this isn’t clear yet – that’s ok! As a starter, take a look at the current average tuition for colleges in your area and use that as a reference point. You’ll want to narrow this in when you get closer to college-age.

2. Get Involved in Activities

Getting involved in activities in and out of high school is a great way to start planning for college. Colleges love to see individuals who are involved in activities that aren’t during school hours. Things like student council, clubs, sports, or other activities are all great ways to stand out on your college application.

Beyond the personal development, getting involved in activities can have a financial benefit. Scholarships are also a factor when it comes to getting involved. There might be scholarship opportunities available for some activities that you participate in. Scholarships help out tremendously when paying for college, and they’re available to anyone eligible.

⇾ Read Now: Do Financial Advisors Help with College Planning?

3. Maintain the Highest Possible GPA

Getting your grade point average (GPA) as high and as stable as you can will help for a number of reasons. The average standard GPA is 3.0, and keeping it at 3.0 or above can raise your chances of getting into a college you want because it shows you care about your education.

Like with extracurricular activities, keeping up your GPA has a financial benefit as well. A higher GPA will also help you get access to grants and scholarships not available to those without it. Colleges want to help you, and they’ll give you chances to save money if you show that you can put the work in.

4. Apply for Scholarships

 Scholarships aren’t only for the individuals who exceed the academic standards. They’re offered to any individual who is qualified. If you happen to be a descendant of a certain culture, are in need of financial aid, have family in the military, or even if you participated in a group, you’ll be able to apply.

There are thousands of scholarships and grants just waiting to be given away. No matter who you are, where you’re from, or your family’s income status, there are always opportunities to help you save some money.

Your high school’s guidance councilor can help you find some scholarships. The U.S. department of labor also has a free scholarship finder tool that anyone can use.

5. College Application Fee Waivers

Most colleges charge an application fee to apply to their institution. These fees vary by school, but the fees range from $35 to $80 per application. This may not be a burden for some, but for others, these prices can add up quickly if there’s more than one school you’re looking at.

Depending on how you do on the ACT or SAT, you may be eligible to four free applications through The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC). This is a great resource to tap into when applying directly to schools.

6. Set Aside Money in a Dedicated Account

If you’re saving for college, it’s a good idea to open a dedicated savings account with your bank to use for just that purpose. Depending on when you start saving and how much, you could also earn a sizeable interest over time.

Need help planning for college? Greater Midwest Financial Group provides education planning services to make college planning easy!

Not with Greater Midwest Financial Group on your side. Our financial advisors can help you develop a customized financial plan that fits your budget, lifestyle and individual needs, whether you’re able to fund monthly or annually.

Contact a Financial Planner

If you’re planning for college, don’t be afraid. There are many avenues you can take to save yourself money, time, and stress during your college planning process.

Greater Midwest Financial Group is a financial advisor firm serving St. Paul, Minneapolis and the wider Twin Cities area. We specialize in wealth management, retirement planning, asset management and other personal finance needs.

Photo by Charles DeLoye on Unsplash