Parents always want the best for their college students. You would love it if he or she could spend those college years just concentrating on studies, and maybe have a little fun on the side. But what happens when those dreams run up against the harsh reality of college costs today? Should parents have to make the decision to send their children to a less expensive school, borrow more money, or ask them to earn some money to help pay the bills?
Fortunately there is an easier answer with the Federal Work-Study program. This provides part-time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need. Your student can earn some money to help pay for their own education expenses. Best of all, it encourages community service work and work related to your student’s field of study. Just be sure your student’s school offers the program, and complete the FAFSA early to increase your student’s chances of participating. Here are some hard questions to think about when deciding whether to encourage your child to apply for this program:
• How many courses is my student taking? You don’t want to pile too much onto your student’s college plate. If he or she is taking a large number of advanced level classes, you might want to bite the bullet and take out student loans to leave plenty of time for study. However, if your student is not taking a full load, or has a number of general education courses that are not too taxing, a work-study program could be a great idea.
• Have we thought about extra-curricular activities? For many students, extra-curricular activities can be a vital part of the academic experience. If your student is participating in athletic programs, academic clubs in a particular area of study, or cultural enrichment programs, there might not be enough time to work and still get good grades.
• How much will student loan payments cost? Do a little financial forecasting to determine how much the student loan payments would be if you borrowed the full amount available. Then consider your potential future income and that of your student to determine whether the payments would be manageable or onerous. If they wouldn’t be too taxing on future income, you might be able to forego the work-study idea.
• Is my student organized enough? If your student has been able to balance part-time work with high school classes, he or she should be able to make the adjustment to doing the same on the college level. But a student who has no experience in this area might struggle to find time to accomplish everything.
Learn more about paying for college in my book, Secrets of a Financial Aid Pro! You’ll find information on saving for college, the work-study program, completing the FAFSA, applying for financial aid, and student loans. Order it now, and the information you need to make informed college choices.