The holidays are over and it’s time to get down to the details.It’s time to talk about money. Not the most fun conversation in the world, but one that needs to be had. Most students at this point don’t know much about what amount of money their parents plan to contribute to college cost or what they can contribute themselves. This is not a problem right now, but it will become a HUGE problem of you wait much longer to talk about it. Here are a few things you need to find out during your “money” conversation.

How much, if any, do your parents currently have saved for your college? Each family is different, so it’s okay if your parents don’t have any money saved for your college cost. What’s not okay is finding that out three months from now. Ask your parents for a time when you can all sit down and get this number figured out. This is one of the single most important things to know before you make your college choice. Once you have that number down, it’s time to move on to question two.

 What can they afford to contribute to your college cost each year? Once you complete FAFSA, the government will assign a number that represents how much they think your family can contribute to your college each year. Universities don’t have anything to do with assigning that number and we know it’s not always completely accurate. That is why you also need to talk with your parents about what they can afford to contribute each year. Some schools, like ACU, also allow people to break up each semesters cost into monthly payments. Sometimes it is easier for families to plan how much they can contribute monthly rather than yearly, so use that number if you want.

 How much do you plan to contribute to your college cost each year? You may be thinking, wait a second, I’m just in high school… How am I supposed to contribute money toward my college cost? Don’t worry, I’m getting to that! There are a couple of different ways you can help contribute to your college cost.

  • One way is to use money you earn at work currently. If you don’t have a job, think about getting one and start that college saving now. I would also encourage you to look into getting a job once you start college. On-campus jobs are great but hard to get as a freshman, so talk with your Admissions Counselor about ideas on where to work.
  • You know all of that money you’ve received for birthdays and holidays? Guess what, that’s a great way to pay for your books. Also, when you get that graduation money from Aunt Soandso, don’t rush out to buy the newest gaming system. Instead, use that money to buy the computer or tablet you need for college.

Believe me, being willing to contribute to your education will make others more likely to help out. So get saving for this fall!

I know, I know… Your “to-do” list for college is long at this point. Apply for scholarships, visit schools, pick a major, and so on. So the last thing you want right now is more to add to your list. I promise these are conversations that are worth your time and will make life MUCH easier for you in the long run. Once you have your answers to the above questions, make sure to let your Admissions Counselor know also!