Preparing for the costs of college

Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 8:15 AM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Families across the country have been ‘saving for college’ for years, but with college costs at a public institution averaging more than $25,000 a year, those savings are proving not to be enough for many families.

Students may pass down tips and tricks to save money, from the best campus jobs to the cheapest textbook sites or even the best deals on pizza. Still, with so many expenses to keep track of, best-selling author and money expert Nicole Lapin says it’s important to be smart and make a budget.

“Some of the biggest expenses (for college students) are supplies and course materials,” explained Lapin. “On the supplies front, I would suggest waiting as much as possible for the pens, the paper, and dorm supplies because the closer we get to the Back to School season, the less expensive. Also, save those receipts because many retailers will price match.”

For course materials, Lapin suggests taking advantage of technology when it comes to purchasing textbooks and titles.

Lapin says that for parents wanting to help their children with the costs involved with secondary education, it’s important to be honest with yourself and your financial situation.

“I know you want to do the right thing for your kids by saving for college, but you have to prioritize your retirement because there is no financial aid, there are no scholarships for your retirement,” Lapin said. “Kids are really looking to parents for a good financial example so make sure you have your own financial life together because your kids are watching.”

Lapin says students can help their own cause of saving money as well by utilizing student discounts and cashback applications, along with applying for grants and scholarships.

“The more specific you can be about your own circumstance, the better because there will be less competition out there,” Lapin explained. “If you’re the first person in your family to go to college; if you have a military affiliation; if you’re into forestry; any little thing will help because it will ensure that there are fewer folks out there vying for those same opportunities.”

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