With the average cost of a four-year college education around $20,000, affordability is a major hurdle for students and parents alike. Experts say to start saving when your kids are young, but it is never too late to start saving.
Financial advisor Kat Almulla has three of her own children in college and shared some last-minute college saving tips if you no longer have years to save up for school.
She said make sure not to be lazy when it comes to free money. Around $16 billion dollars is available in scholarship money. All you have to do is apply. Almulla said look into scholarships based on your student's projected major, ethnicity and achievements. She even said there are scholarships for people who are left-handed! It just takes some time and research.
Another way to take advantage of available money is by looking into available grants. In Florida, students qualify for Bright Futures based on their GPA, community service and SAT/ACT scores. There is also money available through the Florida Resident Access Grant.
Almulla said student loans are not necessarily bad as long as they are not abused. Students can take out a Federal Stafford loan, which is subsidized by the government, or an unsubsidized loan. Even if your student will eventually have to pay interest, that interest does not occur until after graduation.
Finally, she said make sure your student is taking advantage of discounts. Around college campuses there are all sorts of deals on food for students. But more importantly, through Amazon or Chegg, your student can rent or buy textbooks at a reduced price and even get money back for them once the semester is over. Students can sign up for Amazon Prime and get free 2-day shipping without any additional charge.