September is College Savings Month!
We want to help give your savings a little boost by providing you with some resources to make saving for college or your educational goals a little less challenging. It’s not unknown that saving for school is hard – on average, tuition prices increase 8% per year. But, we believe that with the right plan and guidance, you can reach your educational goals.
When saving, we all know that it comes down to controlling two factors: minimizing expenses and maximizing savings. However, when working towards making college education more affordable, there are multiple avenues to be exploring outside of saying no to that pumpkin spiced latte.
Post-secondary education can often include costs many don’t anticipate, including parking passes, meal allowances, and miscellaneous supplies to complete classwork. The right plan for you needs to have a budget to help you anticipate these unanticipated costs, along with a healthy understanding of programs available to you as a student and parent. You might have more savings options to help finance your degree than you may think.
Boost Your Savings
Let’s start at square one: maximizing your savings. You work hard for your money, but does your money work hard for you? Savings accounts are a great way to put it to work but make your deposits work overtime by placing them in accounts that earn higher interest rates while you’re working towards achieving your financial goal. If you are two years away from pursuing your college education, or ten, multiple savings options are available to you.
For example, Certificate of Deposits locks in your deposits for a set rate and term of time in exchange for higher interest rates, which is a great way to maximize interest, especially if you don’t need immediate access to your funds. Alternatively, establishing small weekly direct deposits into a savings account can be a low-risk, low burden way to start contributing. Typically, these types of savings account have no service charges for students under 18, which is a great way to save sooner! Solutions like AutoSave are great solutions for those who have a little tougher time committing to saving. With AutoSave, when you use your debit card, we’ll automatically round up to the nearest dollar and put that money directly into your savings account. Small change adds up to big savings!
Apply for Free Aid
While student loan debt continues to be a challenge for many across the country, traditional student loans aren’t your only source of financing education. There are two different forms of financial aid: gift aid and self-help aid. Student loans often fall into the second category. Self-help aid is different than gift-aid in that there is an expectation of paying back the total amount of the loan, plus interest. Most of the student loans disbursed to students are coordinated by the Federal Student Aid office of the U.S. Department of Education. While student loans could help provide necessary funds to finance your degree, the former category, gift-aid, should be your primary focus and could be more beneficial to you in the long term.
Gift aid differs from self-help aid in that it usually does not carry the expectation of repayment. Typically, this assistance takes the form of grants or scholarships. There are also more sources of self-help aid than you might think. While your academic institution commonly offers this form of assistance, be sure also to explore:
- Third-party organizations, such as non-profits and community organizations
- State and local government websites
- Scholarship competitions
Every little bit of assistance you earn from gift-aid is that much more you have to help finance your education.
Equity Bank Education Assistance
We know that planning for college on your own can be daunting. From assessing your monthly budget to calculating how much you can save, there’s a lot of work to do, especially in the beginning. When you bank with us, know that you aren’t alone. Our bankers are happy to meet with you and help you create personalized savings plan to help you finance your education. It’s part of our commitment to helping you bank like anything’s possible.
Also, 529 Plans is a savings plan designed to encourage saving for future educational costs. While there are limits to what you can spend the money saved in these accounts and a different sort of fee structure that may be best to review with a banker, these plans can provide a vital source of additional funding.
Give us a call, or schedule an appointment with a banker at a local branch through our new website. It’s banking made easy that is designed to help you reach your financial goals.