I'm not saying that you shouldn't do everything you possibly can to help your kids go to college. However, they should be included in understanding the costs and finding ways to save money. Here are a few tips to get the most out of further education expenses.
Picking and visiting potential universities. T
Taking the time to find the right college can expend a significant part of your budget. This deal may change, but currently, Amtrak offers a 50% off deal for companion tickets on college visits.
Research help and free money.
After my first year of full out fun, my folks decided that I needed to start paying for my declining grades. We probably should have done this in the beginning. Scholarships seemed to be out of the question. I wasn't fabulous at sports, didn't have a hankering for specific subjects and had a shameful background in community service. Come to find out, that's not a roadblock. I researched fellowships and grants at NCSU and gratefully won a C.A. Dillon Jr Scholarship. However, you don't have to wait until you're actually there to get aid. High School guidance counselors are invaluable resources. Here's a link from the Department of Education to get you started.
Save on textbooks.
Even though I was already a money-saver my first year of college (clearly not my parents' money), I walked out of the campus bookstore with a bill well over $200. Keep in mind, this was 20 years ago and most of my books were discounted as USED. I dread that the totals are more phenomenal now. Here are two links that will help me with my girls in the future from US News and Today. I had no idea that you could rent a book. Very cool!
Credit card reward programs and college saving accounts.
The 'college saving account' that we set up has fixed unexpected car issues, a mold problem and will now be eradicated with braces that all three of my lovely gals need to keep their smiles intact. Hopefully, my poor planning can be a lesson to you.
Consider a financial planner and research strategies because the first day of kindergarten transforms into dorm opening in the blink of an eye. This is not the time to be opening an equity loan on your house.
UPromise.com has some ways to earn and save, even with coupons. Love that! I'm only up to $80 but it was free money and they'll have a really nice dinner when we move them into the dorm. If you work the account right, you'll end up with much more than me. Check with your accountant with other ways to set up tax exempt funds.
Good luck and please comment with your tips. We're going to need them!