We hope your FAFSA applications are filled out and sent in. Financial Aid is important today, especially as college will likely be 3 to 4 times more expensive in the next 18 years. Grants and scholarships, along with government loans, usually only cover about a third of that cost, so saving is the answer; it is far less expensive than borrowing.
There are ways to begin saving for big ticket items like college in small chunks so it doesn’t hurt. The trick is to start early and to use your social network on the Internet to encourage more contributions. After all, it takes a village. College Basics has scouted out some places you can utilize to do both.
Upromise.com – Upromise is a rewards plan. You set up an account at the site and then for every purchase you make online participating merchants will put into your account anything from 1% to 15 % of the amount of purchase. Friends and relatives can also sign up to have their contributions put into your account.
Fidelity.com – Fidelity issues an American Express card that offers cash rewards that can be automatically transferred to a 529 Savings Plan. (529 Plans are savings accounts from which money spent on education can be drawn tax-free.) Again grandparents can link their cards—of course, they’ll want to get one– to the same 529 account.
Babymint.com – Like Upromise, you can receive dollar rewards for spending, but what’s great about Babymint is it also has participating colleges that will match every dollar in the account with a tuition dollar discount. You save twice.
Gradefund.com – Gradefund is one of several sites that allow students to set up their own account. They can upload their transcripts and other work that shows they are good college material and then invite all their friends and family through Facebook and/or Twitter to contribute.
You should also check out all the financial aid tips and information at College Basics’ website.
With today’s college costs, it pays to involve others in saving, even if it’s small. And, small savings can really mount up over years if you have started early.