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Smarter ways to pay for college

Step one: Start saving sooner rather than later.

Often, part of the family business transition is sending the aspiring successor away to university to get some education and training. These days this is no small commitment. And, it's easy to mess things up. Here are some thoughts on tightening up your process.

The first thing about paying for college is that you should start planning sooner than later. If you start saving when the baby is born, then a few hundred dollars a month will go a long way. Even if you do that, you still want to begin an active planning process with your college student when they start high school. This gives everybody plenty of time to make good choices.

In general, a good process is shown in this illustration:

-Subscribe to tools that help the student assess their talents and interest and identify careers that are a good fit for them;

-Help the student identify the short list of careers to research;

-Identify college majors that provide the training to enter those careers;

-Select schools that offer ALL those college majors;

-Prioritize ALL the schools based on your students situation: Academic achievement, financial constraints, and geographical preferences;

-Process ALL the correct financial aid forms ON TIME;

-Get the BEST DEAL before you commit to the school; and

-Manage financial and tax strategy to pay the balance for the college expenses.

A fee-only fiduciary financial planner is a great resource for all aspects of this process.

If this blog has got you thinking about your own situation, get in touch with my office (

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Penton Agriculture.

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