Strategies for college families in the new economy

strategies for familiesWe thought that tuition was tough to afford before the economy tanked! The closing of factories and resulting downturn in sales have devastated my husband’s small company and crushed our budget. Besides cutting back on household expenses we are trying a number of other strategies to help us to survive the new economy.

  1. Take on a second, part-time job. I have taken on another part-time job locating quality websites for an educational company. Since I can do this from home it doesn’t affect my full-time job and involves no additional costs for commuting, food or clothing. I’m also keeping my eyes open for additional opportunities.
  2. Revise your expectations for jobs during the school year. My son and I have had some lengthy discussions about the type of job he needs to find once he returns to campus. Since Mike earns his own spending money and helps with the cost of his books, I have also relented and will be allowing him to work more hours than were in our original plan last year.
  3. Try to finish in 4 years! Mike has been revising his schedule to ensure that he can finish his courses in 4 years. Colleges don’t make this easy so he is also planning to take some classes (those outside his major) at a local community college next summer. He first has to make sure that these hours will transfer to his home college. This will save us both money since his scholarships expire after four years and cannot be renewed for additional semesters.
  4. Look for other sources of money. We may need to cash in his few savings bonds this year rather than his senior year. We are also evaluating the worth of some coin sets that he received from his grandparents. I have suggested, only partly in jest, that he start checking eBay to see if any of his old toys would sell. Anybody want to buy a vintage Transformer?
  5. Move more of your tuition burden to your child. Mike has had to pay even more of his own costs this year. He is already in charge of earning his own spending money. When he joined a fraternity last fall he also knew that he was responsible for all his costs; the initiation fees, the dues and the cost of his pin. Luckily, his fraternity doesn’t own a house so his bills are much lower than those for most fraternity/sorority students.
  6. Check your employer’s pre-tax savings. I have taken advantage of the pre-tax savings that my employer offers for my health care deductions and an annuity. This could free up a little money that can be used for college costs and might be an advantage on the FAFSA. If you are paying child care or elder care costs check to see if your employer allows you to make these payments using a pre-tax cafeteria plan. Now if only college tuition payments were eligible to be paid using these pre-tax plans!

College Finances and Bills