It's no secret that a post-secondary education in the United States is expensive. Of course, the cost varies depending on the school, location, program and housing situation, but according to College Data the average annual price tag for a college education is approximately $24,000. It can even go as high as over $47,000 per year for private colleges—that's a lot of money.
You may be thinking of all the ways to save that amount of money before your child graduates high school and goes off to college. Not all families can realistically save that amount of money per child—and that's O.K. Just because you don't have the cash on hand doesn't mean your kids can't pursue a higher education.
The solution is to have your kids pay for all or a part of their own education. Here are four ways to help your children fund their own education:
Help Them Find a Part-Time Job
Don't be afraid to put your kids to work, a part-time job never hurt nobody. You can set a schedule to ensure your kids focus on schoolwork and earn some cash on the side to save for college.
Starting to save as early as possible means your kids will have more cash in their pocket when they go off to college. The more they save, the less you have to.
Forget Birthdays, Think About College
This may be harder when your kids are younger because when they're little all they want to do is get toys as presents. However, there's no shame in asking for money instead of gifts for birthdays and Christmas. The more people who are saving towards the cost of education, the faster you'll achieve the goal.
Open a Savings Account
Have your kids talk to a personal banker to learn about savings accounts, automated savings and paying for their own education. 529 plans are specifically designed to encourage parents, grandparents, children and other family members help save for a student's post-secondary education. They offer tax advantages for the money deposited and can (in most circumstances) be used to cover the costs of any college related expenses such as tuition, supplies and books as well as room and board.
Apply For Student Loans
It's very possible that despite best efforts, cash savings won't be enough to fund your child's post-secondary education—and that's O.K. too. As a backup plan, college students can always apply for student loans.
The U.S. Department of Education offers Federal Student Aid, and if your child needs a little extra assistance they should apply online. Of course, student loans have to be paid back after graduation, but keep in mind that being in debt as a college grad is better than having no education at all.