Education is the most valuable gift that you can give your child. However, as with anything of great value, education doesn’t come cheap; particularly the cost of getting your child into a good, reputable college. But parents need not resort to cheap, substandard schooling for their children, or to stop sending them to school altogether. Fortunately, there are some strategies that you can adopt to provide your child with the best quality college education while saving a lot of money at the same time.

When choosing a college to enroll your child in, don’t just focus on the usual criteria such as the type of courses that are offered, academic prestige, location, and so on. Rather, also pay heed to scholarships and special payment plans such as installment and guaranteed cost plans, and tuition reduction for good grades. You should also send applications to at least 2 or 3 equally-ranked schools, so that if your child is accepted into both of them, you could gauge which of the 2 schools offers the best financial aid program.

Choose colleges with proven track records in providing first-rate financial aid programs. Many of these schools publicize the success rate of their financial aid packages, as well as how much money they loan out. Take note of these statistics so that you can ascertain the financial aid that is suitable and affordable for you. However, you don’t necessarily have to accept a particular school’s financial aid package as is; you may still be able to negotiate for a better package should you deem it unsatisfactory.

It is important to understand the formula of a financial aid program in order to determine the various factors that could affect your qualification for financial aid. But then, you should still apply for financial aid even though you may think that you are not eligible for one. Just because you may not be living in total poverty doesn’t make you any less entitled for financial aid. Many, if not all, colleges and universities offer scholarships to students who excel not only in academics but also in sports, singing, and dancing, regardless of their financial status.

When filing financial aid forms, it is vital that you fill them out precisely. This is because forms that have errors and omissions tend to get bumped, and you would have to wait until a later date to re-submit them. Also, financial aid is given out on a first-come, first-serve basis, so always make sure that your forms are submitted right on time.

You can also save money by having your child finish four years of college in just three years. Your child would have to skip on summer vacations and take summer classes, but if he values education first, then it should be a sacrifice that he is willing to make.

Lastly, you should never underestimate the effectiveness of investing a portion of your salary on a monthly basis. If you have a toddler who’s not in school yet, start investing now. When he reaches his teens, you already have enough money for his high school or college education.

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