Welcome to our college planning page. Here, parents and students alike will find targeted information that will help to not only demystify the college planning process, but act as a guide for prudently planning for one of the most financially significant events in a family’s life. We have divided our content into two sections: college planning before high school and college planning during high school. Our planning before high school section not only offers information on getting an early start on savings – it also focuses on helping a child discern where their interests may lie and stresses the importance of developing good study habits. In our college planning during high school section, we discuss the importance of internships as well as prepping for the SAT exam and the availability of loans to help pay for this adventure.
We hope that you find this material to be useful in generating ideas, as well as planning strategy. SavingForCollege.com is one website that links to monthly tips, articles, news, and more on college savings. Two of the site’s best features are an article discussing Seven Steps to Saving for College, and a College Savings Calculator, which calculates how much you should save for your child’s education based on several criteria. We have our own methodologies that we would prefer to discuss with you, but the calculator is a good way to get the discussion started.
With the ever-escalating costs of college, it is never too soon to begin saving for your child’s college education. There are a range of investment strategies available that may be approriate for your specific situation; however, we believe that a 529 plan (named for the IRS Code section that establishes this type of savings vehicle) should have a place in most families' college savings plans – regardless of your income level. New York State has its own 529 program, and you can open an account online.
Most kids do not know what they are interested in studying in college (or their interests may change monthly). Your child can take a test that may help them to discover their interests. Many such tests exist online. The Kiersey Temperament Sorter is one of the best-known online interest tests, and there is no charge to receive the basic results from this instrument. It involves a series of questions on your personality, and then tells you your temperament, as well as some career options that suit your temperament.
The website of Study Guides and Strategies comprises a comprehensive list of study tips for many areas of learning, including classroom learning, online learning, and test-taking skills, among others. Students as well as parents may benefit from spending some time on this site.
Merit scholarships are awarded to students based on their talent, without consideration of income. Many of these scholarships can be obtained directly through the school or university the student will be attending. High school guidance counselors can also provide information on merit scholarships.
Internships and entry-level jobs can be very useful in getting practical experience in a field. There are many internship listings online, including CollegeRecruiter.com. Guidance counselors can also help students find internships.
The SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) is an important exam for high school students. It is the standard test for college admissions in the United States. This test is generally taken in the junior year of high school. The College Board is the company that produces the SAT. Two companies that offer SAT preparation courses and materials are The Princeton Review and Kaplan. Many students can benefit from individual tutoring rather than classroom instruction. Ask around. Someone you know has probably used, or is using, a tutor.
The college selection process can begin in sophomore year, and enters the final application process in senior year. There are many criteria to consider, such as size and location. Some websites offer a college search, by which you can find colleges that match criteria which is important to you. U.S. News & World Report produces the most well-respected ranking of the nation’s universities and graduate schools, searchable by discipline.
Completing college applications involves references, essays, transcripts, and more. The process should begin in junior year, and can be tracked using an application timeline. There are also online application tips which can be useful. Applications, along with other important college deadlines, can be tracked in this senior year timeline.
For many families, loans comprise an increasingly large portion of the financial aid package. FinAid.org provides information on three major categories of loans: loans to parents, federal student loans, and private student loans. In order to apply for federal student loans, students must fill out the FAFSA application. FAFSA is a common application used by colleges to determine each student’s financial situation, including their parents’ ability to pay. It must be filed annually to determine not only loan eligibility, but also grants, work-study awards, and even non-federal aid. BestSchools.com offers a user-friendly Guide to the FAFSA that clarifies common questions, making it easier for students to have access to the support they qualify for to start or continue their education.
AC Online provides a directory of introductory Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) from top universities.