(BPT) – As your child is wrapping up their high school career and making plans for college, there is often a mix of emotions for everyone involved. On one side, you and your student may be feeling a sense of pride and excitement for the ambitious plans ahead. However, as with any transition, graduation may come with some anxiety because of the unknown. One of these worries might be whether your child is getting into the right college program that will help them find a career worth the time, money and effort invested.
“We value education because it unlocks many doors and lets students build a foundation to launch their careers,” says Joe DePaulo, CEO and Co-Founder of College Ave Student Loans. “But when you factor in the costs of higher education, it’s perfectly normal to feel concerned over whether your child’s chosen path will actually pay off four years from now when they earn that bachelor’s degree.”
To help with those final decisions leading up to college, DePaulo offers the following senior-year checklist for parents and students.
Apply to a variety of schools: After visiting campuses and poring over all the details, it’s very common to settle on one school as “the one.” Don’t just leave it at one. Applying to three or four additional schools can help your student keep their options open and compare financial aid award offers. Best case scenario: A previously overlooked program may come through with an award letter with a financial aid offer they can’t refuse!
Dig into career prospects: Another important factor in guiding your student to the best program is their career prospects. As a rule of thumb, a student’s total loans should not exceed the expected first-year salary. Before your student chooses, they should have an estimate of total loan costs and how long it would take to repay them. To help with this planning, check the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Also, to help you plan for the cost of borrowing, find the student loan calculator on the College Ave Student Loans website to understand your expected loan payments.
Look for funding in unexpected places: Paying for school can be a huge worry for families. Before you get overwhelmed by the price tag, make sure you’re taking full advantage of the various opportunities available to help with college costs. Start with your employer. Many out there offer tuition reimbursement for employees and their children. (If your student works part-time, they should definitely check with theirs, too.) It’s also important to dedicate time researching scholarships and applying to as many as you can. In fact, after receiving their award letter, 83 percent of students wished they had taken time to research more scholarships, according to a recent College Ave survey. Finally, it’s not outlandish to ask for help. You may have supportive family members who are more than happy to “sponsor” a specific expense, say, a semester’s worth of dorm meals or textbooks.
Finally, stay focused: Even this late in the game, do what you can to keep your student motivated and avoid the senior slump. In the final semester, grades can still affect scholarship eligibility. Don’t forget, senior year is also the time when students often rise to leadership roles in their chosen activities and sports, which can give them a confidence boost in their abilities and future potential. Be sure to cheer them on, because senior year can be a time to shine and graduate on a strong note.
The things you and your student accomplish this year can ensure a strong start in college next year. To explore more funding options and to get prequalified for a private student loan, visit collegeavestudentloans.com.