Using the college parent network

using the networkBy this point in the process of preparing your future college freshman, you should have sent the deposit in, reviewed your financial aid forms, and your child should have begun the chore of completing numerous other forms. These would include housing questionnaires, course selections, and which orientation program you will attend. These new experiences mark the end of your student’s high school career and quickly move to the college years. We as parents must review the financial aid award to determine what payment plan to select. Should it be a federal parent plus loan, a payment plan, a home equity loan, or some kind of private loan?

As you explore this confusing process, it has always been clear to me that parents with college age children tend to offer the best information. These experienced parents always have a “tidbit” that warrants further exploration that may save you some money in the end. It doesn’t just start with paying for college, but their living expenses as well. I can remember with my first child, we planned a day for “shopping for college.” We bought sheets, towels, hangers, an iron with an ironing board, and of course, the endless plastic containers. We bought a plastic container for her clothes, for the shower, for storage and one for her midnight snacks. We purchased so many dorm items only to learn that she really didn’t need any of it. Furthermore, our student was capable of bartering and sharing for anything she needed. When I went shopping for my next college student, he unfortunately had to hear, “but your sister didn’t even use that.” The point being, we as parents learn by example, from our children and other parents.

There are several other expenses that make us ponder what method is the best for our child. For example, how are we going to get our children home during fall breaks, holidays or simply when they need to “chill out” from college life? This new network of friends may in all likelihood have the answer once again. We as parents are always if search of a convenient and economical method that will make our pocketbooks less empty during our child’s college years. Most recently, a low fare airline carrier is offering double bonus points to college students only when they sign up for their frequent flyer program. Its free, it’s online, and bonus points add up to free flights. For one of my children who attends college in the south, he is halfway to a free flight. A major bus carrier offers free transportation after completing several trips and all you need to do to sign your child up online and begin accumulating mileage for those free trips home.

A parent network is probably the best network for the dissemination of information among each other. We have been called the “helicopter parents” and all too often we become too involved with our children, but sometimes it is necessary. We learn about which loan to get, what meal plan works best, what they really shouldn’t bring to college and more importantly, it forms a bound among others. One thing is for certain; no matter what state our child comes from we all share the same concerns and are in search of similar answers. Although the college experts that are specific to their domain, it is the parents that contribute the most to this crazy process. Listen, learn and hold on because there are many thrilling rides along the way!


Tuition and Bills