Parent Resource

How To Ensure Your Child Is Financially Ready For College

By Lucy Wyndham

It costs the average D.C student just under $10,000 per year to attend a public college. As a result of the high cost of college tuition across the country, students are graduating with more than $37,000 worth of debt, according to CNBC. But with the country already in a $1.65 trillion student debt crisis, it’s essential that when you’re preparing your child for adulthood, you include financial college prep too.

Start early

With CNBC reporting that public college costs have risen 213% in just two decades, it’s safe to say that it’s never too early to encourage your kids to start saving for college. A Harris Poll found that most parents believe that 15 years of age is the right age for their teen to get their first job. As such, as soon as your child earns their first paycheck, encourage them to be responsible with their cash and to put a portion of it away in a savings account, ready to put towards the cost of their future education.

Set expectations

40% of parents have never talked with their child about how they’ll pay for college, reports Market Watch. Yet, parents typically cover just 62% of their child’s college fees. By not sitting down with your child and making it clear that you expect them to have a financial input, you run the risk of your child assuming that you plan on paying for it all. It is, therefore, best to outline your expectations as early as possible so that everyone knows where they stand.

Help your child to save cash

Children aren’t born knowing how to maximize their money. Thus, it’s essential that as a parent you’re a good role model and teach your child the best ways to prepare for higher education. For example, the College Board estimates that college students spend $1,250 on textbooks. However, you can help your child cut this figure considerably by browsing the shelves of used book stores in D.C with them and helping them source older versions of textbooks.

Educate your kid on debt

These days, it’s a given that any student attending college in D.C will develop debt. Worryingly, 10% of D.C students have student debt which tops $100,000. And while some college debt is typically unavoidable, it can be made worse by your child’s actions. Research has found that college students spend $11 billion every year on unnecessary food expenses, such as snacking and eating out. Meanwhile, clothing and alcohol costs are also high, at $5 billion and $5.5 billion per year. You should, therefore, make your child aware of the long-term impact of their actions and how it could affect their ability to obtain future credit and even purchase their own D.C home.

Attending college in D.C is a costly expense which all children need to be financially prepared for. Ensure you make it clear to your child how much of their college expenses they’ll need to cover, encourage early saving, and educate your child on how to effectively save money, as well as the risks of falling into debt.