The cost of sending a child to university today is staggering, so much so that many are deciding to forego higher education altogether and enter the workforce directly from high school. And while no parent wants to see their youngsters start professional careers under the strain of oppressive student loan debt, many families simply lack the resources to pay for university educations. For those with several children, the obstacles can seem even more insurmountable. Yet while it is certainly difficult, saving for your children's university fees is by no means impossible. It does, however, require a long-term commitment, careful planning, and hard work on the part of parents and students alike. Here's how to put your kids through college debt-free:
Starting early is essential when saving for university. Parents should open long-term savings accounts as soon as their children are born, and begin slowly filling them with a small percentage of each paycheck. The sooner saving becomes a habitual part of your financial life, the better. You will earn more interest, be less strained as the first payments approach, and ultimately notice the financial drain less when it is spread out over an 18-year period.
University savings need to be a top priority for families. Not only does that mean that parents need to commit chunks of each paycheck to the fund, but it also means that the whole family should contribute. When inheritance money comes, it should go into the savings account. When your kids reach working age, they should get jobs and start contributing to the account too. And from the very start, academic excellence should be a constant focus. The better student your child is, the more likely he or she will be to win scholarships and grants.
Consider Your Outgoings
You certainly don't want to give up your social life while saving for your child's education; life is for living after all, however there are better ways to achieve more for your money. If you are planning dinner with friends, plan to go on a weekday evening when there are a multitude of voucher code deals on offer from sites such as vouchercloud. If shopping for holidays remember to research and shop around for the best deals, search last minute holiday packages and also try and barter.
Make sure you are getting the best deal with your utility bill packages and sign up for loyalty cards when offered by your regular shopping outlets as you often receive vouchers and discounts through the post, this is particularly helpful for the weekly grocery shop.
Another great saving tip is to habitually put unexpected income directly into the college fund, where it can't be accessed until needed for its purpose. This means holiday bonuses, big commissions, lottery winnings (we all live in hope!), and tax returns should all make their way directly into savings. This way, the pain of saving will be drastically reduced, and you can operate on an ordinary budget without feeling the drain so heavily.
Apply for Scholarships
For your student, scholarships should be a constant goal. This means seeking out and working towards every opportunity available and there are countless options out there. Good marks aren't the only way to win a free education. Excelling in extracurricular activities, sports, and community service projects are equally viable ways to obtain grants and financial assistance.
The Lodger Option
If years of saving still didn't quite add up to enough, don't waste that empty bedroom at the end of the hall when your youngster moves into the dormitories. Take on a lodger to help out with the expenses, and let your child know that he or she will be sleeping on the couch during their next visit home.
For many families, there are countless obstacles that stand in the way of a university educationâ€”and money is certainly one of the largest. But for those who make education a top priority from the beginning, paying for a university education is well within reach. Of course, saving so much money inevitably entails making sacrifices along the way. In the end, though, the benefits far outweigh the costs: an education is one the best gifts a parent can possibly give.