Local financial professional gives tips for paying for college

Grants are free money you don't have to pay back, while loans need every penny paid back with interest.

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – Students are excited to get on campus after a year of uncertainty. The pandemic impacted many people’s finances, and put more strain on students struggling to pay for college.

Financial professional Tim Kulhanek from Stonebridge Insurance and Wealth Management says there are a number of options available to students.

Kulhanek says a new survey found 72% of 2020 high school graduates and 79% of high school age teens said they would need to reconsider how to pay for some or all of their higher education.

How can students afford the rising cost of tuition?

Financial Aid

There are billions of dollars of scholarships available. In addition to scholarships, every student should fill out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form to see if they qualify for financial aid. How much aid you receive is based on your family’s income and assets. If your circumstances change after submitting your application, let your college or university know. You could be eligible for more financial aid options.

Grants vs. Loans

Grants are free money you don’t have to pay back, while loans need every penny paid back with interest. Financial aid award letters sometimes mix together the list of grants and loans universities are offering you. If you need to use loans, do the math carefully and don’t borrow more than you need.

Consider College Alternatives

The pandemic changed the way students think about higher education. If the cost of college appears too daunting, consider attending a community college for the first couple of years because they are local and often less-expensive than universities far from home. Community college could cost you $8,430 annually in tuition and fees in Nebraska.

What can parents do to help?

Be sure to talk with your child after they’ve applied for any grants and scholarships. It’s also important to inform them about the responsibility of a student loan, if that’s their only option. If you choose to help financially, parents can get federal loans to pay for their child’s college cost. Student-loan forgiveness loans has been considered by the Biden administration, but there has been nothing set in stone, yet.

Sit down and create a budget. Find out how much your student plans on spending on expenses like transportation, supplies, housing and what money they’ll have for fun.

You can find a budget worksheet for college students on Kulhanek’s website, stonebridgeiwm.com.

Categories: Midday Interviews