The typical way an advisor helps clients save for their kids’ college education involves a savings vehicle like 529 plans. Here are some lesser-known ways to ease the fiscal bite of college:
1. Notify the auto insurance agent. A family auto insurance policy may cover the car that a child takes to college, as long as the vehicle is registered with the parent as the owner. Also, if the student’s education brings their car to a new locale, it might make a difference in your premiums. Furthermore, if a college-bound student resides at a campus at least 100 miles from home and is not taking the insured vehicle, the client may be eligible for a reduction in auto insurance premiums.
2. Graduate in three years instead of four. Some colleges offer accelerated programs that allow students to graduate in three years instead of four, saving your client a year’s worth of tuition and related expenses. Some colleges offer a similar program that combines an undergraduate/graduate degree in five years. The student may have to take a heavier course load each semester and skip summer breaks to meet academic requirements, but it can help parents financially. Students can also participate in advanced placement tests (in high school), internships, and job training programs to trim tuition costs and earn college credit outside the classroom.
3. Save on college housing costs. To save on college housing costs, clients can buy a rental property near the campus. In addition to the potential that the property will appreciate over the years, the client can gain income by continuing to rent the property to other college students after their child has graduated.
4. Buy it used. Students should buy used books whenever possible. There are many online bookstores that will give you a better deal than the campus bookstore. Used books are usually in good condition and cost about half the price of new books.
5. Search early. Applications for most college scholarships aren’t due until the students’ senior year in high school. However, advise clients with talented children to start searching for grants and scholarships their freshman year. By finding potential awards when they begin high school, the student can choose classes and participate in activities that will give them a better chance of getting free cash later on.