Share This Article With a Friend


Friday, July 5, 2013

6 Strategies to Pay for College Without Going Broke

Are you (or someone you know) looking or ways to pay for College for you or your child without going broke? I am!!!  
Tameka Williamson, Your Own College Coach, shares 6 Strategies for Paying for College Without Going Broke!
We have watched the news and the trends of how student loan debt continues to surpass consumer debt, cost of tuition continues to rise, scholarship funding is more competitive and state incentive aid such as HOPE scholarships are no longer options that yield hope.  So, what is a parent to do?  This information is to help you think outside of the normal paradigm and look at strategies that can bring about viable college options.  We encourage you to have an open mind about your options and focus on making smart decisions not costly decisions.  It’s all about the end goal, and that is a competitive college education at the lowest cost possible.
The goal is to equip you with tools that will keep you from making the same mistakes many parents make. This is the only way we can change the landscape for our future generation. So, I hope you are ready to learn and take action based on what you’ve learned. Our mission is for you to obtain the maximum amount of money possible for child applies.
Strategy #1: Send Your Child To A Community College For His/Her First Two Years Of School. If your child works hard and gets good grades, they can usually transfer to a top private university. This way, they can get a diploma from a prestigious school for half the cost!
Strategy #2: Pick Colleges focused on Minimizing Student Loan Debt. The Project on Student Debt is an initiative of the Institute for College Access & Success, a nonprofit independent research and policy organization dedicated to making college more available and affordable to people of all backgrounds.  As a result, the colleges on their approved list have developed financial aid policies that limit or eliminate student loans from financial aid packages, reducing costs for students and families.
You also have National Association of System Heads (NASH) Access to Success Initiative project with The Education Trust. A2S works with 22 public higher education systems that have pledged to cut the college-going and graduation gaps for low-income and minority students in half by 2015. Together, these institutions serve more than 3.5 million students. They Meet 100 percent of their admitted full-time undergraduate students’ financial need for fall 2010. That means the average gaps between a school’s total cost of attendance—tuition, fees, room and board, books, travel, and other expenses—and every student’s EFC – Expected Financial Contribution was filled with some combination of aid.
Getting accepted into any of the schools on this list will almost guarantee your child will graduate with little to no student loan debt.  But please know that your child must be competitive and yet again, produce good grades and high test scores.
Strategy #3: Understand and Maximize the FAFSA Form.  By understanding the formula, you will start to see how different factors will affect your eligibility for financial aid. For example, “Should you move the assets out of your child’s name?” or “Should Mom or Dad take two courses at a local community college to qualify as a part-time student?” By knowing the formula in advance of applying, you can legally set up your personal and financial situation to maximize your eligibility for financial aid. Your bottom line goal is to minimize your EFC – this is what the government feel you can afford to contribute.
File Your Financial Aid Forms Accurately And On Time. Remember, financial aid is awarded on a first come, first served basis. 66% of the forms submitted have an error on it. If you submit your forms with errors or omissions, it will probably “bump” the financial aid forms, and you will have to resubmit them at a later time. If this happens, you will probably lose aid since they award money on a first come, first served basis. Most schools have different deadlines, and if you miss their deadline, you will almost definitely get less funding.
Strategy #4: Pick Colleges That Have The Best Histories Of Giving Good Financial Aid Packages. Many schools publish statistics on how much “need” they meet and how much FREE money and loans they give out. Know these numbers before you apply, so you don’t waste time and money applying to schools you’ll never be able to afford. If they offer loans, determine how many subsidized vs. unsubsidized loans are awarded. When loans become part of the equation, do your best to qualify for federally subsidized loans, which are interest-free and principal free until your child graduates.
If you still need to borrow more money, try borrowing from your 401k plan or a pension plan. Many plans will allow you to borrow up to 50% of the value of the plan or up to $50,000 interest-free. You can also think about refinancing your current mortgage (not a home equity loan) because long-term rates are typically low during these times, much lower than student loan rates and, under most circumstances, tax deductible (but consult your tax advisor, of course.)
Strategy #5: Don’t Be Afraid To Negotiate For A Better Financial Aid Package. Always Apply To, At Least, Two Or Three Schools That Are Rated Equally. This way, if your child gets accepted to all of them, you may be able to play one against the other when negotiating to get a better financial aid package.
A school’s financial aid package is NOT fixed in stone. Just because they offer you a certain package, doesn’t mean you have to accept it. If you know how to calculate your “expected family contribution” and you find out what the school’s history of giving out financial aid is, you can usually get a pretty accurate idea of what you should have received. If the school’s offer is way off – write a letter to negotiate. I have seen many cases where schools gave $2,000… $3,000… even $6,000 more than they originally offered just because the family asked. The moral is – Don’t Be Afraid To Negotiate!
Strategy #6: Have Your Child Enroll In Advanced Placement Classes And College Level Courses While Still In High School. Every college level course they place out of is money you won’t have to pay when they go to college. Considering college credits can cost as much as $300 each, having your child place out of these courses can save you a lot of money. This happens when AP classes are successfully completed and the subject tests passed when taken in May. By taking foundational core classes at a local college/university while in high school, will decrease the amount of classes a student take once enrolled on a full-time basis, could be covered through a high school – university collaborative and it proves to admission representatives your child is college ready.
There are many more strategies for you to implement. Hopefully, these 6 strategies will motivate you to get started and take action in looking at how to create a plan of action that will facilitate your child’s dream and future so they can achieve college success.


Tameka Williamson is a Six Sigma Blackbelt in Lean and Process Improvement that analyzes and creates systems for change.  Being a certified speaker and coach for the John Maxwell Team, Tameka developed her signature programs around the 6 WILLs that help students Get Noticed, Get Admitted, Get Funded and Get Hired so they WIN in life, bringing about positive and sustainable change.  Winning Intentionally at Leading Life (WILL) is modeled around Standing out, Reliving your dreams and Removing the limits. Having successfully overcome several life changing events and a successful corporate career of driving change for over 15 years in Fortune 100 Companies, Tameka is maximizing her experiences to equip others with the tools to either avoid the same mistakes or bounce back quicker and stronger on their journey to fulfill their purpose. For more information about Tameka Williamson, Your Own College Coach, go to