College Guide


Paying for a college education is an expensive but important part of personal finance planning. This guide offers tips for saving for and getting financial aid for college, plus additional advice for students to save while in school and tips for recent graduates. Also check out our 40+ Resources for Parents and Students for even more information. Use the links below to jump to any section.

Saving for College

Calculating the Cost of College
One of the hardest parts of saving for your child's college expenses is calculating just what those expenses will total. Here are some ideas to get a better financial picture of the actual cost of college.

How to Save Money for College
There are several different options for building a college fund that will cover part or all of a student's college expenses.

Section 529 Plans
A Section 529 plan offers an opportunity to invest money for your child's college tuition tax free. A Section 529 plan also offers the alternative of prepaying your child's tuition at today's prices, rather than the higher costs you can expect when your child is ready to enroll.

Coverdell Education Savings Accounts
The Coverdell Education Savings Account (also known as the Coverdell ESA) is a college savings option that allows you to save money towards your child's college expenses with tax advantages.

UTMA/UGMA Custodial Accounts
Over the years, Uniform Transfers to Minors and Uniform Gifts to Minors custodial accounts (also known as UGMA and UTMA accounts) have become less popular than college savings options.

Series I and Series EE U.S. Savings Bonds
Rather than setting up an account for your child under one of the many college savings plans (like a Section 529 Plans, Coverdell ESAs, or UTMA/UGMA Accounts), you can simply buy Series I and Series EE savings bonds.

Paying for College

40+ College Resources for Parents and Students
40+ resources that help you pay for college and save money while in school.

College Financial Aid Options
There is so much aid out there including grants, federal student loans, private loans, federal tax credits, and even federal work study programs for students seeking federal financial aid for college.

Federal Student Loan Options
The U.S. government has created a number of different federal student loan programs in order to address the needs of different groups of students.

6 Ways to Pay Less Money For a College Degree
A four-year college degree can be one of the most expensive purchases in a person's lifetime. Here are six ways you can expect to pay less money for a traditional four-year college degree.

How to Get a Big Payoff From College Scholarships
Depending on your financial circumstances, scholarships can help you save on tuition now, and reduce the interest and principal on student loans later. Here are some tips on managing the business of applying for scholarships

Stopping the Student-Loan Debt Stress
Is your student-loan debt causing stress, influencing you to make financial decisions that are not necessarily in your best long-term interests, and delaying your entry into what your parents may perceive as adulthood? If so, you aren't alone.

A Former Student's View of Student Loans
To FAFSA or not to FAFSA? Wise Bread blogger Sarah Winfrey discusses, in retrospect, her experience with student loans.

Are Private Schools Worth the Money They Demand?
Here are some points that argue yes, private schools are worth the money.

Student Savings

Timeless Tips for College Students
Want to get good grades in college or help your favorite student thrive? Here are some timeless tips for college students.

School Bookstores Can't Afford Cheap Textbooks
Ever wondered why textbooks at campus bookstores are so expensive? Find out here. Plus: other textbook-purchasing options.

How to Find the Cheapest College Textbooks
The campus book store won't give you the bargains you want — neither will the usual book stores. If you want your textbooks at the lowest possible price, online is the way to go.

Study Abroad for Way Less Than You Think At United World College
Does your high-school aged child want to study abroad? If so, United World College could be a good fit. And for a school abroad, you may be surprised at the sticker price — or lack thereof.

6 Savvy Strategies to Ward Away College Hunger and Avoid Overspending
With these strategies in mind, the hungry college student will never go hungry again!

College Student Eating Survival Guide (Until Spring Break)
Eating seems to be a major expense for college students not on some sort of meal plan. And even students that are on meal plans often find they underestimated. Lucky for you, there are other ways to eat.

How to Succeed as an Online Student
If you're considering online studies, don't underestimate the workload, discipline, and communication skills needed to succeed. Here are tips on excelling as an online student.

Sit in on a Class at MIT for Free!
Many colleges offer free access to their online instruction. Assuming that you just want the knowledge and could care less about the official college credit, you might enjoy this resource to get some of the best online instruction for absolutely no money.

A Frugal Resource: The Community College
The community college offers a depth of resources available not only to enrolled students but also to community members. Here are ideas on getting value from your tuition and tax money.

Don't Go to College to Learn
There are good reasons to go to college. And, if you do go to college, you will no doubt learn a lot. But you can learn anywhere — and probably learn more, better, and faster if you do so on your own. If you choose to go to college, make sure you know what you're paying for.

The Case for Majoring in English
It's the one with the most job options, the cheapest on books, and the most frugal on investment. Here are more reasons to consider the English major.

Tips for Recent Graduates

Income Based Federal Student Loans Repayment Plan — Can You Benefit?
This month a new repayment plan for federal student loans is going into effect that allows borrowers to base their monthly payments on their income after graduation. Here are some details on how the new Income Based Repayment Plan (IBR) affects loan payments for borrowers, and some pros and cons of participating in the plan.

7 Great Jobs that Offer College Loan Forgiveness
These seven careers are not only growing in opportunity, but they can sometimes offer partial to complete loan forgiveness!

Advice for New Graduates
Here is some advice for new graduates who are transitioning from the safe structured environment of school to a seemingly infinitely larger world.

Resumes for Recent Grads
Are you wondering what to include in your resume and what to leave out? Here are ways to translate class projects, volunteer activities, and campus involvement into real-life skills valuable in the workplace.

Translating Volunteer Experiences to Workplace Credentials
Need ideas for parlaying volunteer hours into skills and experiences valued by employers? Here are a few ways to present your volunteer experience on your résumé, as an integral part or valuable addition to your professional credentials.

5 Ways Your Alma Mater Can Save You Money
Alumni associations are doing everything they can to make things better for graduates of their college during this difficult time. Amazingly enough, some of the savings are pretty substantial.

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