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College Costs:  Do you know the true COA?

College costs are rising every year, yet students often think the money they need will somehow magically appear when they are accepted into their dream school.

College Costs - Does your student know the true cost of their dream school?

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One of the most important discussions that parents of the college-bound need to have with their students is an honest and open talk about finances and how much the family can realistically contribute to higher education. 

Before having this talk, research into the COA (Cost of Attendance) of each college that students are considering is a MUST.

Understanding these costs and comparing them to what a family can truly afford is a necessary and important part of the college planning process. College Parenting Expert, Wendy David-Gaines, shares a unique method of finding out the true COA with her formula found on the POCS COA Chart (Parents Of College Students) and college-prep parenting article. 

Wendy states:

The COA formula used by colleges and the government includes tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, transportation and personal expenses. That seems comprehensive but there are hidden costs that financial aid does not address. There are many costly items incurred by parents of college-bound students (POCS) that are not counted.

The POCS COA does include parent travel costs of meals, lodging, gas or plane tickets for special campus events or other visits. It also includes borrowing costs for parents and students like interest and fees. Added program expenses and certain other initial personal expenses are also considered. Parents can use the handy POCS COA Chart to help calculate a better college cost estimate to decrease nasty financial surprises that increase worry.

Knowing the true college cost numbers and communicating with college-bound students will ease the stress and worry that come with college planning. In addition, students who know and understand the COA at their dream school will be much more motivated to work on college scholarship applications. (Be sure to readCollege Scholarship Teamwork Makes the Dream Work)

Read the full article and come up with a plan that works for your family:

GAME PLAN SINCE COLLEGE FUNDING IS PARENTS’ TOP FINANCIAL WORRY

Paying for college is the top financial worry for parents. It beats out funding frets for medical expenses, retirement, and maintaining a standard of living, according to Gallup’s 2001-2015 Economy and Personal Finance survey. It showed paying for children’s college displaced retirement which held the first place financial concern over the previous 15 years. Families need to put this major expense into perspective. They can form a game plan by understanding the details of the cost of college attendance and their financing options because colleges don’t accept toy money or real stress to pay their bill.

Specifically, 73% of parents of children younger than 18 had more anxiety overpaying for college than any other financial issue. That is a whopping seven in 10 parents out of the more than 16,000 Americans Gallup polled. “And the 73% worried about it is notable because not all parents likely expect their child to attend college, although many more parents may hope or expect their child to go to college than actually will,” Gallup analyzed.

Increasing tuition, fees and other costs can lead to a future financial burden for parents and their college-bound kids. But higher education is an investment in students’ prospects because college graduates earn so much more over their lifetime than their peers who don’t earn a degree.

KNOW COLLEGE COSTS BEFORE APPLYING

The key is to balance costs against funding so family members aren’t burdened by unaffordable student loan debt that must be paid back. Knowing what constitutes the cost of attendance (COA) and what the college finance options are can help parents and students plan ahead and alleviate some stress.

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The COA formula used by colleges and the government includes tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, transportation and personal expenses. That seems comprehensive but there are hidden costs that financial aid does not address. There are many costly items incurred by parents of college-bound students (POCS) that are not counted. The POCS COA does include parent travel, costs of meals, lodging, gas or plane tickets for special campus events or other visits.

It also includes borrowing costs for parents and students like interest and fees. Added program expenses and certain other initial personal expenses are also considered.

Parents can use the handy POCS COA Chart to help calculate a better college cost estimate to decrease nasty financial surprises that increase worry.

Families can also form a team to learn about financing options including creating a savings plan and applying for outside scholarships and government/college free money grants, loans that must be paid back, loans with forgiveness programs that cancel all or part of the amount borrowed, loan repayment options, and work/study programs. Have the college cost talk now.

Students and their parents who are looking for college scholarship money can easily get overwhelmed. I know, I’ve been there! Learn the step-by-step method that I developed to help my son go to college and graduate 100% debt-free here >>

The more families know about their college costs and their funding options, the more they can focus on planning instead of worrying.

Does your student know the true cost of attendance (COA) at their dream college? Click To Tweet

College Costs: Do you know the true COA?

 

College Scholarship Tip - Know the cost of attendance
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