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Ways to Help Your Teen Save for College

With student loans the norm in America, many families fail to plan ahead and put as much cash as they can away before their teens head off to college. While you may not ever be able to pay for their entire degree in cash, you can still help your teen cut corners and lower their final debt balance. Kids benefit from future planning, but it has to be done in a way that feels exciting rather than daunting. Teenagers already deal with a lot of mental and emotional stress from school, their parents and now, social media. Between comparing themselves to others and trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives, planning for college can just feel like another adult responsibility they want to delay as long as possible.

When your child enters 9th grade, it’s the perfect time to bring up their future education. Make the conversation light and fun while bringing up the importance of saving. Little by little, you can use these tips to help your teen pay for their education. Of course, you aren’t excluded from contributing as well. Borrowing a Private Parent Plus loan can also be a good way to help them get started to their adult life. These loans can work well in conjunction with your teen’s own savings, ultimately giving them less debt and greater financial freedom when they’re older.

Open a Savings Account

If you take advantage of only one of these must-do’s before sending your child to college, this is a good one. Open a separate savings account to help your teenager build interest on their contributions. They can invest any gifted money or a portion of their income to help build interest over the next few years. There are some fees to account for, so you should compare the difference between a 529 Plan and your bank’s savings account.

Limit Their Spending

Help your teen break up their allowance or income by setting a spending limit. If they have $50 a month for anything they want, the rest of their money can be put into savings. While they may not be thrilled at the thought of leaving most of their cash untouched, this is a good opportunity to teach about wants vs. needs. You can also discuss the sustainability factor as well, an element to spending that many teens might not consider right away.

Encourage Them to Sell Unwanted Clothes or Belongings

Whether it’s video games trade-ins at the local GameStop or selling clothes online, teach teens the importance of recycling. Donation is important, too, but there are also opportunities to make a small profit by selling gently used belongings.

Help Them Take Advanced Placement Classes for Credit

Taking AP classes in high school can help your child cut down on student loan debt. Because they can transfer credits to their future school, they’ll ultimately pay less tuition and possibly even graduate earlier than expected. Taking all AP classes junior and senior year can save them as much as a semester in expenses.

Look for Scholarships Early

Help your teen identify scholarship opportunities while they’re still in school. There are scholarships for high schoolers that can cover everything from books to full courses. There are awards out there for aspiring writers, artists, Native Americans, minorities and so much more. In addition to being a good source of motivation to study, applying for scholarships also help your child practice their writing and critical thinking skills.

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