Here's a worrisome query from a reader: "My kid is very close to college age, and I've got very little saved. What do you suggest?"
Well, fret not. Junior isn't doomed to a life of flipping burgers. There are several things you can do to improve your situation.
For starters, Junior might delay going to college for one or more years. If the idea of working for a little while right out of high school appeals to him, it can be a smart move. Both he and you can save money for college as he works.
Also consider having Junior focus on less-expensive schools, such as in-state public universities, which tend to charge much less for tuition. Local schools have additional benefits, such as extra scholarship opportunities and reduced travel costs to and from school. Another option is for Junior to attend a community college for the first year before transferring to a bigger, more-expensive school for his last years. Yet another new possibility is online courses.
But these options might not even be necessary. Start looking into scholarships -- Junior might qualify for one or more. You don't always have to be a genius to earn them -- some are meant for violin-playing Lithuanian-Americans, and others are for lifeguards with family ties to some association or organization. Some are simply for students from a particular state who want to study a particular subject. There's a wide range. Check out these scholarship info sites: FinAid, The College Board, FastWeb, College Scholarships, College-Scholarships, and Wired Scholar.
Finally, consider loans. As long as you don't end up borrowing too much, this is an effective way to finance schooling. For more info on loans for college, click over to Sallie Mae, Student Loan, eStudentLoan, and the U.S. Department of Education.
Junior should still apply to one or more of his dream schools, because you never know -- they might offer a financial aid package that helps make it affordable.
You'll find lots of tips on paying for college in our College Savings Center. Our Paying for College discussion board is a good place to ask questions you may have, and our book The Motley Fool's Guide to Paying for School by Robert Brokamp (editor of the Motley Fool Rule Your Retirement newsletter service) is also a handy resource.
These articles may also be of interest:
- Save for College or Retirement?
- Saving and Planning for College
- Get Record-Low Rates
- You Can Pay for College
- Advice for College Freshmen
- Starting Late at College Savings