Create Your Plan for College Funding Success {infographic}

College is expensive. Don’t wait until you receive the college tuition bill to figure out how you’ll cover the tab. That’s a surefire way to overspend and end up with a mountain of debt.

Strengthen your family’s college funding journey with a plan centered on affordability and smarter spending choices.

The following infographic provides a framework to help you streamline your planning and guide your next steps.

Learn how college pricing works today

College pricing is dynamic, published prices are not what most families pay. Price breaks and tuition discounts are the norm, not the exception. The variability in pricing is a starting point to lowering your costs.

A driving force in what families end up paying for college is related to the financial aid received, which can be need-based and/or merit-based aid. Other terms that may be used to describe student aid are scholarships, institutional grant aid, tuition waivers, tuition discounts or whatever name a school chooses for their gift aid. Don’t shy away from learning more about and applying for financial aid.

Personal savings and cash flow count

Whether college is several years away or just around the corner, create a college budget or spending plan, where you simply identify the assets and amounts that you can put toward college expenses. To get an estimate of future values for your current savings and investment accounts, use free online compound interest calculators that show how your accounts may grow over time.

The more you can save for college and/or contribute from your current income the less you’ll have to rely on expensive debt.

College choice matters

The biggest influence on your college costs will be the school you select. And the primary way to curb your costs is to be more selective with the schools you consider – shaping your college search to include schools that are less expensive than your budget, as well as schools that may be more expensive but also more generous in providing need based or merit based financial aid. Also consider other important factors like school size and location and the intended college major.

Know your all-in costs

Paying for college is a major consumer purchase and knowing the true cost is the starting point to determining affordability and value. Consider the four year costs, including annual increases.

Embrace smarter choices

Now is the time to put all your information together, including your budget and projected costs for schools on your list. Are you on the right path to spending smarter? Or, headed toward too much debt?

Stay focused on keeping your spending in check and consider other options that can be more financially comfortable and help you protect your family’s financial well-being.

Boost Your College Funding Success!

Stay with College Money Smart for the insights, strategies and resources you need to drive down your college costs, avoid excessive debt and protect your financial future.