Don’t let money be a barrier to higher education

If your child’s goals after high school include college, they are on a good path! By 2020, nearly seven of every ten jobs will require education or training beyond high school. But let’s face it, the cost of college can be intimidating. Fortunately, there are many resources to assist students in this area. Scholarships, grants, loans, savings and family support can all play a role.

Here are a few things to consider:

  1. It’s never too late to start saving. Whether your child is just starting preschool or high school, look into ways of saving money for college. The Arizona Family College Savings Plan is a 529 plan that is sponsored by the state of Arizona and allows people to save for education with tax-deferred contributions. Visit gov to learn how to make that happen.
  2. Whether or not you have set aside funds, the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) will open the door to grants, which is funding that does not need to be repaid, or loans, which do need to be repaid. What’s more, completing the FAFSA will establish eligibility for need-based and other funds at Arizona schools – but don’t delay if you have a high school senior. The application period is now open and many universities have early priority deadlines with special awards available for those who complete the application on time.
  3. There are also thousands of scholarship options to be explored, focused on everything from academic achievement and financial need to ethnic background and special talents or interests. School guidance counselors and online searches can help identify scholarship opportunities that are right for your student. This is also money that doesn’t need to be repaid, so seeking opportunities large and small can add up. The team at College Depot has assembled a helpful list of opportunities. Don’t wait until senior year to start the scholarship application process; many are open to hearing from younger students.

Postsecondary education can be a challenge to finance, but education beyond high school is so valuable in the long run. People with college degrees have significantly higher earning potential and lower unemployment rates, not to mention the personal growth and networking opportunities. And you don’t have to go it alone – check with your child’s school about resources available to assist you with the process.

Expect More Arizona is a statewide nonprofit, nonpartisan education advocacy organization working to ensure every child receives an excellent education every step of the way. For more information visit ExpectMoreArizona.org.

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