By Jodi Okun
Are your families worried about paying for college? Are they confused about securing the best financial aid packages? They are not alone.
Regardless of income or financial circumstances, most parents have one of these concerns:
- They make too much to qualify for aid.
- They make too little to afford college at all.
No matter what their financial situation, there are plenty of opportunities to help them pay for college. Before starting the search, they need to understand how financial aid works, whether they’ll qualify for any – and know where to turn for help when it gets confusing.
Managing college financial aid strategies – from scholarships to work study jobs to student loans – is challenging. But it does not need to be overwhelming for your parents and students.
I begin the process by asking parents to answer these three questions:
- How can you afford college for your child?
- How can you navigate this complicated financial aid system?
- And how will you make the best decisions for your family?
While no single answer is right for everyone, you’ll be able to help them find an answer that is right for them. I help parents navigate the process, but I cannot give them a step-by-step manual of what to do; I would need to update that manual daily. Useful information will help them move in the right direction to secure the funding they’ll need for their child’s post-secondary education.
Meanwhile, encourage them to try to stay calm, and to not let fear get the best of them. You know that college is a lot of work, and it costs a lot of money. But most parents and students I know feel that a college degree is well worth the effort.
Don’t wait till senior year before making financial plans. If you do, you’ll be limiting your options. The more information you acquire early, the better off you will be.
I’ve seen parent exclude their students from the financial aid decision-making process, and then turn around and complain that their child doesn’t understand anything about money. Everyone involved should know the facts behind the decisions made; it helps them understand how to be financially responsible.
Use scholarships, grants, and other awards that don’t need to be paid back.
Jodi Okun, founder of College Financial Aid Advisors and a former financial aid consultant at Occidental and Pitzer colleges, has helped thousands of families successfully navigate the financial aid process, no matter what their financial situation. She is the bestselling author of Secrets of a Financial Aid Pro, and is recognized by the Huffington Post and other media outlets as a top social media influencer. She blogs, speaks to industry and parent groups, and hosts #CollegeCash Twitter chats that connect families with higher education professionals – and receive more than 10,000 impressions each week! Wow’s Kim Lifton has been a frequent #CollegeCash guest.
Wow is a strategic communication company, working with students, businesses, nonprofits and individuals who want to communicate their messages effectively to any audience. The Wow Method has been used by students to write application essays and resumes; by business owners to create blogs, websites and other communication materials; and by English teachers to improve student writing skills. We can even help you write a great blog, presentation or book to market your company. If it involves words, Wow can help! For more information, email Kim Lifton at Kim@wowwritingworkshop.com or visit Wow business services.