Paying For College

The rising cost of college tuition is a big topic. It has become not just a talking point for politicians, but for parents and their kids all across America. While high school students eagerly plan campus visits and focus on taking their SATs and ACTs, parents are consumed with how to pay for the education.

The Benefits of College

Despite the cost, the benefits of going to college are still enormous.  According to economist Guillaume Vandenbroucke, a college-educated person will earn 52 percent more over a lifetime than someone with only a high school education.

Americans with a college education are better able to withstand economic crises, like recessions, and have a far lower unemployment rate than other Americans, especially early on in their careers. Despite all the coverage of the rising cost of college, the benefit of going still greatly outweighs not attending.

How to Pay for College

Many parents seek out advice from various places to figure out how to pay for college. Parents ask friends, but they often seek information directly from the colleges themselves on how to pay for tuition. This will include information about scholarships, student loans and even government grants. This is a good source of information, but an outside perspective is can much more valuable. Many parents fail to engage one of the best resources available for them—their local Federal Credit Union.

Credit Unions can offer a wide array of support from college workshops information sessions to help you get up to speed on finance options, to Certified Financial Counselors that can help you organize assembled payment options.

Student Loans

Student loans are a popular option for paying for college, but arranging them through the chosen college is not always the best option. Many different financial institutions offer student loans. The federal government is by far the single largest source of financial aid to college students, but there are also state government loans, college-sponsored loans, commercial lending institutions and credit unions, which offer private student loans.

We have a great resource site to help parents understand the variety of student loans available. It has a variety of background information to help you understand the landscape of options, and helps you chart a path forward.

Getting Scholarships and Grants

Before applying for a private student loan, make sure that you have thoroughly exhausted all sources of free and low-cost financial aid. This includes scholarships, Pell grants, Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants (SEOG), college grants and private grants.

Talking only to the preferred college about how to pay for it is fine, but it does limit your exposure to options. Those schools want your son or daughter to sign up. Having an objective participant that is well versed in the many ways to pay for college is a big help to you and your specific circumstances. This is another way a Credit Union can be a partner through the many life stages.