Friday, April 10, 2015

How to Pay Cash for College - Lesson 3: Close the Financial Gap

I wrote "How to Pay Cash for College" for April edition of Autumn Ridge Church Magazine. You can find the condensed version on the church website. They did a great job of publishing the article with pictures and graphics. I had to take out a few examples to fit their space requirements. This is the full article in its entirety. I'll split it over several posts to make for easier reading.  Thanks to Lisa for helping me write and edit this article.
Closing the Financial Gap...

Minnesota has this amazing program called Post Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) where you can take college courses for college credit while you are in high school. Did I mention this is “free”. I know several students who have earned two year degrees by the time they graduated from high school. Don't miss this one.

Take an ACT or SAT prep course. Getting scores as high as possible will help with scholarships. Our students improve their scores several points by taking the inexpensive courses.

Scholarships and grants are a good way to reduce the cost of college. There are hundreds of scholarship opportunities. It takes work to find them and apply. A number of students have made it a summer job to apply for scholarships and some have covered nearly all of their tuition.

Student savings is another way to bridge the gap. We knew college was coming, and we started a family based business where each of our children could earn money. They have been saving for their college goals through middle and high school. My advice is start early. Create opportunities for your student to work and manage money. Have your student get a summer job or start their own business (lawn mowing, gardening, tutoring, painting, dog walking) as soon as they are able.

Playing video games half the night and sleeping until noon all summer is incompatible with going to school debt free. Don't let your student develop bad habits and waste their summers like this. If they can't find a job, start their own business.

If there is still a gap, then your student is going to need to work to make up the difference. Each of our students has several jobs during the summer and work during the school year. If you are concerned about work affecting academic performance, statistics show the students who work up to 20 hours per week during school do better academically than those who do not. They learn time management skills and other work skills that employers value highly. Even if there wasn't a financial gap I might still suggest they find some work in their field of study just for the learning opportunity. They will not suffer academically, and there will still be time to have fun.

Many students have attended a community college and worked several jobs to save for the final two years at a more expensive four year college.


Brian and Lisa Petersen, lead the Financial Peace University course at Autumn Ridge Church. They just finished leading their 10th class, where over 400 people have been trained in the Biblical principles of money management. Each family situation is unique and they welcome your questions and dialog on this important topic.

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