Plan Ahead to Ensure You Have Resources for Your Student’s Education

What you, as a parent, can do now

Identify the resources in your current family budget that will be available for college costs. You may be able to reallocate expenses such as school lunches, pay-to-play sports and school transportation.

Explore scholarship resources within your community, including employers and local organizations. Develop a student résumé of extracurricular activities, community service and leadership positions.

Complete the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) Calculator at Big Future by the College Board to determine how much your family will be expected to pay at many schools. Keep in mind that academic or merit scholarships may reduce your family contribution so don’t get discouraged.

Review any savings plans or college investments to understand how to access these funds and determine how much will be available. Begin or continue to contribute to savings plans.

Help your son or daughter begin good financial habits and learn to manage their money. Help develop independence and responsibility by encouraging your student to balance academic work and activities with a part-time or summer job.

Keep your options open. Consult College Board ( for potential college matches that
meet your student’s interests.

Visit to review the checklists on academic and financial preparation for college.

There are four primary means to pay for college:

  • Parent contribution from parent income and non-retirement savings, and possibly a parent (PLUS) loan.
  • The student’s educational investment from savings, summer earnings, community-based scholarships, campus employment and educational loans.
  • Academic merit scholarships and need-based grants that may be provided by the university.
  • Federal and state grants for which you qualify.

Evaluating your family’s financial resources for college and learning more about how this all works begins right now. You’ll want to review the cost of schools on your student’s list-but please don’t rule out any college based on cost alone. Many merit-based scholarship and financial aid options are available that dramatically reduce the sticker price and make a particular university more affordable for your family.

Strong academic achievement throughout high school will help your student qualify for academic merit scholarships. Final determination of eligibility for need-based federal and state grants and loans will occur once your family has filed the FAFSA during your student’s senior year of high school.