EDUCATION Funding – Palm Beach Florida Weekly

WHILE THE AVERAGE graduate with a bachelor’s degree earns an average of $1.2 million more over their lifetime than someone with only a high school diploma, many young people sacrifice this potential income by due to the ever-increasing cost of college education.

Despite escalating costs, good financial planning helps many families put their kids on the path to a four-year college degree, says Benjamin J. Koval, president and founder of SoundPath Retirement Strategies.

“Planning college expenses well in advance helps reduce stress, especially when it comes to external factors, such as rising tuition or student loan interest rates,” says Mr Koval. “But although many families would love to see their children go to college, many don’t have a plan on how to pay for it.

“For the most part, many young adults are saddled with huge college loan debt. Others who would benefit greatly from college but can’t afford it don’t go, avoiding debt but perhaps missing out on a life-changing opportunity. The thought of paying for a college education can seem daunting, but there are options to help pay for it. Unfortunately, many people do not take advantage of these options.

Mr. Koval offers these tips on saving and funding for college:

¦ Start a Section 529 plan. “These plans are a solid savings option because they’re tax-free as long as the money is used for college-related expenses,” Koval said. “Ideally, you set up a 529 savings plan when your children are small. It is an investment plan that is spread over the life of the plan. Initially, investments take prudent risks in order to multiply faster, then move on to more conservative options as the student approaches college age.

¦ Many US high schools offer Advanced Placement (AP) and dual enrollment classes. By taking these higher-level courses while still in high school, students can earn college credit sooner. “AP courses are generally more challenging courses targeting specific areas of study within a subject,” says Koval. “Colleges can award credit based on scores that would show the student has mastered the material.

“Dual enrollment classes work as a partnership between high schools and colleges. A dual-enrollment class keeps high school students on the college-level standard and curriculum. Both types of courses can save students and parents valuable time and money in their pursuit of higher education. »

¦ Familiarize yourself with the aid process. Mr Koval says students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which uses their information to determine the amount of financial aid they may be eligible for, including money from grants. or state-funded assistance. “It can also determine how much a student could qualify for in loans should they become necessary,” says Koval.

There are many types of student aid and the amounts can vary depending on many factors. Besides scholarships based on academic or athletic performance, Mr. Koval says that students can also look into Pell scholarships or privately funded scholarships awarded by foundations, religious groups or other organizations depending on the needs or merit.

¦ Consider the community college route. Community colleges are a good option for students who don’t get much support from family or scholarship opportunities, Koval says. “The average cost per credit hour at a two-year community college is less than half the average cost at a four-year college,” he says. “And after two years at a community college, students can usually transfer their credits to a four-year college to complete a four-year degree.”

“The shock of paying for college won’t be so bad if families start planning well in advance,” Koval says. “When you plan earlier, you have less stress and more money to invest in your child’s education and future.” ¦

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