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Challenge: Back to School

Nervous about your college savings plan? Three tips for the future

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By Scott Garner, Communications and Content Marketing Manager of ZipRecruiter

Whether you have a newborn, an elementary student or a high schooler, planning for your child’s college education can be overwhelmingly stressful. With average college costs hitting $34,000 per year, it’s no wonder there’s an estimated $1.2 trillion of student loan debt in the U.S.

However, you shouldn’t let a fear of college debt overshadow what could otherwise be an exciting milestone for your family. The first step to managing your child’s tuition is knowing the options and resources at your disposal. For example, here are three ways that could help you save:

1. Take advantage of in-state tuition breaks.

Some parents take a job in a new state in part because of the state university’s strength, and its potential cost advantage for residents. For example, the estimated 2016 yearly in-state tuition for the University of Connecticut is $10,524, compared to the out-of-state tuition of $32,066. In four years, an out-of-state student would pay nearly triple the in-state cost: a total of $128,264. If you are planning a move, be sure to know your target state’s rules, as a typical minimum residency may be 12 months before classes start.

2. Remember: the college on the diploma matters most.

Students can knock thousands off the cost of their degrees through college transfers. After spending a couple of semesters attending a community college, where the tuition is a lot lower, students can transfer to brand-name universities or other colleges. Hiring managers want to know where you graduated, not necessarily where you started. In a job interview, a candidate’s transition to a more prestigious university may even be used as an example of the interviewee’s dedication to improvement and ability to achieve goals.

3. Seek company scholarships and employer aid.

In a bid to recruit and retain talented employees, some companies offer extra cash to help employees pay down student debt. Perks such as these help businesses stand out from the competition and drive qualified candidates to apply. For example, as a way to alleviate tuition costs, we launched a monthly $1,000 Creative Cover Letter Scholarship Challenge. Each month, $1,000 is awarded to one contestant with an outstanding, nontraditional cover letter. The contest helps students get ahead in their job hunts while potentially paying off part of their college expenses – both of which can be valuable assets in today’s world of higher education.

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