How to prepare your kids for the financial stress of college

Applying for college can be tough on students as they get those test scores in and try to meet certain deadlines.

But, sometimes the biggest worry is ‘How in the world is my family going to afford this?’ Well, it starts with a conversation.

Amelia Focher is a senior at Ferris High School.

Like millions of students around the country right now, Focher is trying to balance her future with her parent’s checkbook.

“They want me to stay in state because it’s cheaper and closer to them, but they’re not going to be like ‘No you can’t go out of state’ if I want to,” Focher said. “They just want me to choose what’s best for me.”

Wanting the best for your kids is just fine, but having realistic expectations is important, too.

It’s even more important to have a conversation early on about those expectations.

“A lot of times parents want to support their kids, and they’ll say things like, ‘Well you apply wherever you want, and we’ll make it happen,'” Ferris Career & College counselor Dawn Hilsendeger said. “When it really comes down to it, it’s really impossible to make it happen, and there are some schools out there that are $60,000 a year.”

Financial aid can be tricky.

Your family may be living well within its means, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can afford sending one or more kids off to college at more than $20,000 a year.

More often than not, FAFSA isn’t going to give that kind of student much aid. But, that’s where junior college can save you big time.

“You can go to a two-year school for the first two years, get your associate’s degree and then transfer to a four-year school,” Hilsendeger said. “Then your gen-eds are complete, and you’re ready for your major program and that’s a way to cut costs significantly.”

If your student is sure they want to go straight from home to a university, it’s important to discuss expectations for their grades.

There are thousands of grants and scholarships to be handed out, but almost all will have some sort of GPA requirement.

It’s also important to understand that Washington has the direct transfer agreement.

So, if your child were to go to a two-year school first, any four-year public school and some private schools in Washington guarantee they’ll accept those transfer credits.

That would allow a seamless transition into their specific field of study.

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READ: Americans now have record $14 trillion in debt

How to prepare your kids for the financial stress of college