Five Steps to Paying Less for College

College costs are skyrocketing. Whether you’re a student or the parent of a student, there’s no doubt you are well aware of the increasing costs of a college education.

Some students are unable to pursue their educational dreams because of these costs. Others are able to earn a degree, but graduate with so much debt that they aren’t able to save money for a car, home, or other important purchases. And still other families are able to pay for college without drowning in debt—but are focused to sacrifice many of their dreams, like vacations, a bigger home, or even retirement.

Clearly the rising costs of college are a major problem for students and families of all income levels. At US College Planning, our goal is to help each student get a great education—without sacrificing their financial future. Below are five steps that will help you or your student pay less for college… contact us today to learn more!

1)     Structure your finances to receive maximum financial aid. Many families don’t realize that the way they structure their finances can make a dramatic difference in the financial aid award that their child receives. Proper planning can mean the difference between tens of thousands of dollars in financial aid—or no aid whatsoever.

2)     Don’t apply for Early Decision. If you apply for Early Decision to a school and are accepted, you are “locked in” to attending. At this point, you have lost all leverage when it comes to negotiating your aid package. The school knows you’ll be attending, and has no motivation to give you a great package.

3)     Apply to at least 5 schools. Even though many students have their heart set on a specific college, it’s important to apply to several. For one thing, you need to have a backup plan in case you are not admitted to the college of your choice. But more importantly for our purposes in this article, being accepted to multiple colleges gives you the ability to hold out for the best possible aid package from each.

4)     Search high and low for scholarship opportunities. Aside from the aid offered by each school, there is a tremendous amount of funding available for college students. Contact us today if you’d like to learn how to access a wide variety of scholarship opportunities that you may not know about.

5)     Know your deadlines. Whether it is the FAFSA or the financial aid deadlines at a specific school, it is essential that you know and meet all deadlines. Simply forgetting to file a form can cost you thousands of dollars each year—don’t make this mistake! We recommend creating a single calendar in which you list all dates and deadlines that relate to the admissions and financial aid process.

Attending college in 2012 is an expensive proposition. But with the right strategies, college can be affordable. These five tips will help you—but please contact us today if you’d like to learn more about paying for college without sacrificing your financial future!

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