savingsFor parents of young children, the idea of paying for their kids college is a floating thought that sticks somewhere towards the back of their mind in terms things to worry about on any given day. After all, there is always time to prepare, right? Wrong. Most people find themselves unable to help ease the tuition burden for their children because they wait too late to start making plans. Here are a few ways to better prepare and reduce the chances your child will graduate with a massive student loan debt burden:

1. Plan early – saving for your child’s college is something you should prioritize from the day they are born. Having a plan outlined for saving early on will not only¬† keep you on track, but be that much more money in the fund than if you wait until they are older. Calculate how much you can afford to set aside and commit to saving the money.

2. Save often – intentions are great, but actions are proven effective. Once you have a plan for saving, set up an automatic checking to savings withdrawal so you can be sure it gets done consistently without you having to put in the extra effort. Even if you can’t afford to save each month, find a plan that works for your budget and stick with it. Even savings a few times a year is better than sending your child into college with only a loan to repay.

3. Boost income – have your child find a small job on the weekends or during the summer to boost the income earned going into the college savings fund. Mowing lawns, babysitting, or even selling unused items from around the house are easy ways to boost the savings account.

4.¬† Find free money-before your child heads off to college, spend some time during the application process searching for free money. There are many grant and scholarship programs available to help support the costs of tuition, you just have to look for them. Ask the college for some resources and search online, you will be surprised how much money is out there that won’t have to be repaid after graduation.

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