Mar 07, 2022 / Money Tips

How to Prepare Your Teens Financially for College

Sending your teen to college is a bitter-sweet experience. On the one hand, you’re sad to see them go. On the other, you’re glad to get rid of them. You’re excited that they’re pursuing their education, but nervous about the life lessons they’re about to learn. And when it comes to money, it’s sweet to see them realize their true earning potential, but easy to get bitter about all the expenses they’ll incur. Here are a few ways you can prepare your high schoolers financially for college and avoid having the entire experience leave a bad taste in your mouth.

Expensive Expenses

According to the Education Data Initiative, an online resource dedicated to tracking the rising costs of higher education, the average cost of attending college has more than doubled in the past 20 years, with an annual growth rate of 6.8%. To put all this in perspective (and to brace you for the mind-blowing figures you’re about to read), the average cost of in-state tuition and fees at a public school went from $97 in 1963 to a whopping $434 in 1982—a similar 20-year period.

Now, the average in-state cost at a public school is more than $25K per year. The average out-of-state cost is more than $27K. And, considering student loan interest and total costs, a bachelor’s degree can be more than $400K. Couple this with rising costs of living and college life has never been more expensive than it is right now.

Start Saving Now

Just like saving for retirement, it’s never too early or too late to start saving for college. Whether your kids are still young or college is right around the corner, having a dedicated college savings account can help them set goals to attend college and save some money in the process.

The Utah First Savings for Success account is a great place to start. With a $100 head start (courtesy of Utah First), your teen can have a dedicated place to put away a portion of their savings (perhaps some contributions from their parents, too) and start earning interest on their income. It’s a simple, effective way to get the ball rolling to hopefully become something bigger when it’s time to pay tuition.

Explore Scholarship Options

With the rising cost of attending college, every little bit of help helps. To help offset the enormous expense of tuition, room, books, and board, it’s always a smart idea to look into scholarships—both merit- and non-merit-based. A quick online search can help you find scholarship databases that catalogue available scholarships and link to applications sites.

As a member-owner of Utah First, your high schooler also qualifies for the Utah First Cash for College Scholarship, which awards $1,000 cash scholarships to 25 lucky students every quarter. To be eligible, your child must be a member of Utah First Credit Union and a current college, trade school, or vocational school student (in any state). There’s no application process, and we’ll deposit $10 into their account just for declaring their eligibility.

College is expensive (and getting more expensive every year), but with a little savings preparation and some extra scholarship help, sending your kids to college can be that much sweeter. To learn more about the Savings for Success and Cash for College Scholarship programs, give us a call or stop by a branch today.