It’s no secret that college is expensive. Students who want to receive a college education must apply, buy textbooks, pay for courses, and pay for on-campus housing if need be. On-campus housing additionally requires the purchase of a meal plan as well as bedding and other accessories for a dorm or apartment. All of these expenses add up, which is a reason many high school graduates choose to attend a community college or a trade schol, join the military, or attempt to find a job. If your teen has their mind set on attending a four-year college after graduating from high school, there are several ways they can start saving now. Look to these seven options and start brainstorming with your teen.
1. Open a Savings Account
First and foremost, if your teen doesn’t already have a savings account, open one in their name. Putting money into this account and leaving it there to stay will allow the account to grow and accrue interest. By the time your teen goes to college, this account should have a good chunk of money in it to help pay for educational expenses.
2. Get a Part-Time Job
Secondly, your teen can find a part-time job to earn money. Working at a local grocery store as a cashier or stock person, at a sporting goods or clothing store as a retail salesperson, at a restaurant as a busser, at a pharmacy as a technician, or at an ice cream or food stand as a scooper or cook are popular jobs that many teens work during their high school years. A summer job at one of the 16,000 public and privately-owned campgrounds nationwide could be a fun gig, too. RVers are free to roam America’s roads for a weekend or months at a time, and your teen could be a worker that helps set up the areas in which RVs park.
These kinds of jobs allow flexibility between school, homework, sports, volunteering, and other extracurriculars, such as the school play or an after-school club. Not only will having a part-time job earn your teen money for college, but it’ll also give them an opportunity to learn responsibility and time management. It won’t look too bad on a college application, either.
3. Set a Spending Budget
Along with getting a job, you can help your teen set up their paychecks so that the majority of the money goes to their savings account while $20-$40 a week goes into their checking account for spending money. Spending money can be used on gas and other car expenses, food and drink, and other fun activities with friends. By budgeting money this way, your teen will learn how to live within small financial means while in high school. This will make the transition to college easier, as college living is living on a budget. It will also help your child’s savings account grow a whole lot faster than if all of their paychecks went straight to their checking account. By following this method of spending, your teen should go to college with a hefty amount of money in their savings account.
4. Save Gift Cards
Your teen is likely given gift cards for birthdays, holidays, and other special occasions by relatives and friends alike. Advise your teen to keep every gift card gifted to them while they’re in high school. When they go to college and have limited means, having a bunch of gift cards handy will be helpful when grocery shopping for snacks, buying clothes and other accessories with friends they meet at school, and purchasing items for their dorm. They may get gift cards to chain restaurants they can use while going out with friends or to small businesses, which account for 99.7% of all business in the United States, that they can use to buy trinkets for their dorm room. Your teen will be grateful they saved their gift cards for a time when their finances are limited and they’re trying to live on a strict budget.
5. Sell Unused Clothes and Items
If your teen has unused clothing and random items hiding out in the back of their closet, help them go through them. Throw out what’s too old or grimy, but set aside any clothing and other items that could be sold. Utilizing an app or website to sell these items is a good way to go about finding purchasers, and selling clothing at a consignment shop is another option, too. While a lot of money won’t be earned this way, it’s worth placing in your teen’s savings account for college expenses down the road.
6. Take High School Courses for Community College Credit
Another way to save money for college is by enrolling in courses in high school that offer community college credit. If your teen plans to attend a state college or university or knows a handful of private colleges that they’d want to attend, be sure the community college credit will transfer to those colleges. This will avoid a hassle when it comes to transferring credits down the road. Community college credit courses offered by high schools are typically much cheaper than a private, state, or even typical community college course that would be taken after high school. Take advantage of these kinds of opportunities if they’re available to your teen.
7. Apply for Scholarships
Finally, your teen should apply for as many scholarships as they can. There are several unique ones out there that can be applicable to your teen’s life. For example, there are scholarships available to individuals of color, individuals in low socioeconomic situations, and even individuals whose parents are divorced. Since there are two divorces every minute in the United States, this isn’t much of a surprise.
Help your teen find scholarships and come up with unique topics for essays they must write for applications. While it’s a lot of work, it can be well worth it if they win scholarships. $100 could go toward textbooks, and $6,000 could go toward tuition. Your teen will never know how much scholarship money they can earn unless they try!
There are several ways your teen can save and earn money for college while they’re in high school. Go over these ideas with your teen, and see how you can help them save money for college expenses that will be here before you know it.