There are three important steps you can take right now to help find funding for college. The first thing to do is encourage your child to study hard and get good grades. Scholarships are free money and it takes good grades to get them.
The second is to start working on the paperwork to save money for college and get financial aid. Open a Virginia Individual Development Account (VIDA). Follow the link to learn how the state will match your savings with $2.00 for every $1.00 you contribute.
The next thing to do is start working on the Free Application of Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Follow the link to the government site that will walk you through the process.
Follow the link below to see what the national trends are in how families pay for college. Don't get discouraged. There are many pathways to a college education. But it will take work and creativity to get there. Start with the steps above. Talk with your child's high school counselor. When your child has narrowed their college choices, talk with the financial aid office. See who will offer the best deal.
How America Pays for College 2010: A national study by
Sallie Mae and Gallup
Full Report at the following location:
Sallie Mae's "How America Pays for College 2010 " (PDF, 4MB) study, conducted by Gallup, finds that even in a continued period of economic uncertainty, families are digging deeper to invest in what they value: a college degree. Based on a nationally representative survey of college-going students and parents of undergraduates, the study found that:
- Both parents and students opened their wallets wider, tapped more scholarships and grants, and borrowed more, to pay for the escalating total cost of college, which survey respondents reported increased by 17% from the previous year.
- Parents paid nearly half (47%) the share of college costs for the 2009-2010 academic year and students paid roughly one quarter through income, savings, and loans.
- 15% of families used money from a college savings plan - up from 11% last year and 9% two years ago.
- To make college more affordable, most families reduced spending (73%) or increased work hours or earnings (48%), but a remarkable 43% of families report that their student lived at home.
- 82% strongly agreed that college is an investment in the future, and 71% strongly agreed that a college degree is more important now than it used to be.