College Savings Plan
Parents: How to save money for your child's education
For many parents, finances are too tight to allow them to make more than a minimal contribution to their children's education.
However, there are many options for parents to consider:
- If your child can live at home while attending school, this can often cut expenses significantly. Remember to add transportation costs, especially if your child will need a car to get to school. And keep in mind that this means your child may be somewhat isolated from the social side of university.
- A teen may be able to take some university courses while still in high school, spreading the tuition costs over more years.
- Check with your employer and any organization or service groups you belong to in case they offer scholarships or bursaries to the children of employees or members. Ask your parents, too, as sometimes grandchildren are eligible.
- When a teen chooses a university, he or she should always ask about scholarships and bursaries. Most universities have a number of these available, especially for first-year students.
- Remind your child to check with his or her high school guidance counselor early in the final year of high school. Some scholarships or awards need to be applied for in the fall.
- Remember that high grades are not the only determining factor in getting scholarships and other awards. Some are based on achievement in a single subject; others look for such factors as volunteering, contributing to the school, overcoming particular challenges, and so on.
- Consider asking grandparents or other relatives for a loan - they might be willing to accept lower interest rates and less stringent repayment plans than the government.
If you decide that these approaches aren't generating enough money, you still have some options:
- Your child can notify the university of his or her choice to attend but ask to defer admission for a year. Then, he or she can work for a year - ideally while living at home, so most of that money can go into savings.
- Part-time studies combined with part-time (or even full-time) work means that your child will take longer to get a degree but won't be burdened with a heavy debt load on graduation and will have some experience to show on his or her curriculum vitae. If your child can find work that has some relationship to the field he or she intends to work in, the combination may be very helpful.
- Your teen may be able to find work at the university or college that can be easily combined with full-time studies. Some students become lab assistants, teaching assistants or residence assistants - all working roles that provide them with income (or benefits such as free residence) while still leaving them enough time to attend classes and study.
With a little effort and creativity, funding your child's education doesn't have to break the bank.