How to handle college expenses when you have multiple kids?
It is not unusual to worry about paying for the college costs of your child. If you have more than one, the pressure can be even greater. Fortunately, there are ways to navigate the process without cashing out your retirement while allowing your children to enjoy the college experience. With multiple children, it can be hard to determine what is fair and what is not when helping to pay for college. Making sure that you provide the documentation, such as tax forms, needed for your child to complete the FAFSA is the single most important thing you can do to help them with college expenses.
If you are unable to make a significant difference in tuition and other educational costs, there are still ways to help. Paying for your child’s travel during school breaks can be a tremendous relief. You may also be able to help by sending occasional gift cards for groceries or pizza. There is no reason to feel bad if your children need to take out loans to pay for their education. These costs have increased dramatically, and there are many payment options available to your children.
Money set aside for education are the first funds that are earmarked when paying for college. Depending on your family’s situation, this may help pay a significant portion of costs, or it may be non-existent. If you do have money saved in an education-related account, such as the 529 plan, it must be used properly, for educational expenses only. Otherwise, you may face some significant tax headaches. If you do not have significant savings set aside, you may still be able to contribute a small amount each month or even once a semester. Maybe you can pay for books, meal plans, or lab costs. This may seem insignificant to you but will lower your child’s tuition bill. Anything that lowers that bill is less than they will need to borrow.
For many students, the bulk of their school costs are paid by student loans. There is nothing wrong with this, it is a great option when paying for school. Interest rates are generally favorable, and your child can borrow the money they need to pay for their degree. While there are different types of loans available, for many students, private loans make a great choice. Unlike federal loans, private loans allow you to borrow what you need to cover not only tuition but other expenses associated with college. Private student loans do require decent credit, so a recent high school graduate may struggle with qualifying. The good news is you, as a parent, can cosign for your child. Private student loan applications with a cosigner are six times more likely to be approved than applications without one. Cosigning these loans allows your child to qualify for loans at a good interest rate, making their repayment terms reasonable for a recent graduate.
Grants are a great resource for paying for education because your child will not need to pay this money back. Make sure that your child has completed the FAFSA so the school’s financial aid department can determine what, if any, grants your child qualifies for.