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College Budgets & Borrowing
When finalizing your financial aid, it's important to borrow responsibly. Research all your options and make an informed decision. Learn more.


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Parents & Guardians


Parents play a vital role in the success of a student. From day one a child looks to its parents as the example of what is right and wrong, what they can and cannot do and who they should strive to be. College planning and career success fall into the same standards.

A parent has a huge impact on how successful a student can be by simply being involved in the conversation. From an early age it's important to talk to your student about their goals and dreams. Help you student create a realistic plan to achieve them, discussing the work and effort it will take to achieve the goal they have set.

When it comes to planning for the future there are many things parents can do to help their children succeed.

Birth through Elementary School

  • Start a College Savings Plan. The sooner you start saving the less likely your student will be saddled with student loan debt later in life. Even a few dollars helps. Studies show that if a family has not started saving by the time the child is seven years old, they will not save anything for college. Start today!
  • Talk to your child about the importance of education and the benefits it serves. Children are more apt to take school seriously if it is established by their parents that it is important.
  • Encourage your child to explore new ideas and try new things.
  • Set expectations and make sure your child understands why those expectations exist.
  • Talk about the future and encourage your child to think about different careers. Find fun ways to explore those careers together.
  • Read. Reading as a family helps develop vocabulary and increases cognitive thinking.
  • Teach your child the importance of Savings. Take your child to your bank or credit union and let them open a savings account. Teach them to save 10-20% of all their money. Learning this habit early will build savings into a lifelong habit.

Middle School

  • Talk to your child's counselor about assessments to fully connect student performance with readiness benchmarks.
  • Continue exploring possible career paths. Help your student take Interest Assessments and explore the career areas the assessment indicates are suited for your student.
  • Continue to set academic expectations for your student.
  • Encourage your student to get involved in community and extracurricular activities. Keep a record of this involvement as it may help with scholarships.
  • Continue to check in our your College Savings Plan. The more you can save the less your student may have to take in student loans.
  • In 8th grade work with your student and the school counselor to develop a four-year plan for high school that reflects optimum course preparation for college AND helps your student prepare for careers that interest them.
  • Expand on savings lessons by teaching about budgeting and paying bills. Try to engage your child in some of the family's financial conversations so they begin learning about the importance of paying bills on time, savings and credit.
  • Want additional, timely tips for college and career planning? Register for SP3 - Student Planning Pointers for Parents - a tailored email reminder service that offers the added benefit of 529 savings plan deposits. Register beginning in 8th grade at

High School

  • Continue to review the four-year plan each year, making adjustments as necessary.
  • Plan for college credit and AP courses when available. College credit earned in high school is free in most cases and if your student is ready, it is a great way to get a jump start on a college degree.
  • Sophomore year look into taking the PreACT test.
  • Begin linking career interests to the education and training required. Begin researching colleges that offer the education and skill training required for those careers.
  • Have your student develop a budget for themselves, including spending plans and goals for the future. Reinforce savings before spending and start talking about the student's responsibility for college costs.
  • Junior year take the ACT test as part of the admission process for college.
  • Talk about college financing and create a plan to pay for college, identifying how much each family member will be contributing. Develop a budget to help determine how much your family can afford for college tuition.
    • Who's paying the bills?
    • Where will spending money come from?
    • Are there spending limits?
    • Are credit cards part of the plan?
  • Layout family expectations for college early so there are no surprises.
  • What are your grade expectations and what are the consequences if those expectations are not met?
  • Is a car going to campus? Whose car and when can it be used?
  • Take advantage of additional email reminders with SP3 - Student Planning Pointers for Parents. Get started anytime in high school by visiting


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