If your children or grandchildren have reached ninth or tenth grade, you’re likely in the middle of the college search process. Let me tell you, this task can seem very confusing and foreign. I’m a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional, and some may think I should have a more solid handle on this process. The reality is, it’s new, and I haven’t personally experienced it in my lifetime, so I’m learning with the best of them!
My oldest daughter is currently in tenth grade, and while it may seem like we have plenty of time to figure out the whole college process, the reality is this major life event is just around the corner. Therefore, our family has decided to leverage the college search process with some outside assistance, and so far, it’s been beneficial!
By sharing my personal experiences, knowledge, education, pitfalls, and obstacles, I hope to give you some meaningful insight into this incredibly daunting (yet exciting) journey.
I think of myself as a learner. I’m eager to learn new things, and navigating the college search has created quite the learning curve. I’ve found numerous online resources, many of which are free to the public. So, I encourage you to take some time, sit down at your computer and start the educational adventure!
College Search Websites
There are several different college search websites available to the general public. Some contain high-level information, whereas others focus on a specific school or major. Depending on where you are at with the process, you may find any of these to be helpful:
- www.collegeinsidetrack.com – Consider working with an expert in the field of college search and navigation. The advisors at College Inside Track help you and your student determine what schools are the most appropriate fit based on their academic, social, and financial needs. Then, with ongoing guidance, you and your student can gradually narrow the focus from the world of colleges and universities to a more select group of schools.
- www.savingforcollege.com – This website provides detailed information regarding 529 college savings plans (including plans available in each state), student loan information, college tuition projections, and calculators to help you determine how much you should be saving for your student’s college education.
- www.collegeboard.com – This website provides detailed information for high school students, including essential testing registration requirements and dates (i.e., ACT, SAT, and PSAT), AP courses for high school students, and calculators to help determine your Expected Family Contribution EFC).
- www.scholarships.com – Search for scholarships available in your state, community, or colleges and universities your student may be interested in attending. Eligibility requirements and application deadlines are also included.
- www.studentaid.gov – Learn about Federal Student Aid, parent loans, student loans, and grants that may be available to you and your family. Begin to understand the key variables that impact loans, when repayment becomes necessary, how interest accrues, and eligibility requirements.
- www.myintuition.org – If you’re interested in getting a quick calculation on how much a specific college or university may cost, as well as how much financial aid might be given, check out this site.
Navigating the college search should be an exciting time for you and your student, not something that adds stress and angst. Take the time to be deliberate in your search efforts, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
At Birchwood Financial Partners, we work with our clients to help them feel empowered and knowledgeable about financial decisions every day. Please visit our website (www.birchwoodfp.com) if you are interested in learning more about our Firm, our team, our processes and services, and the clients we currently serve.