The cost of college tuition is on the rise, and families are often concerned about how to make ends meet. However, there are ways to save on university costs with the help of financial aid, says Ian Welham of Complete College Planning Solutions. You just have to know when and how to approach it.
According to Welham, over 90 percent of students are overpaying for college, simply because they don't understand how the system works and aren't applying for financial aid when they need to. This leaves tens of thousands of unclaimed dollars on the table.
The first thing a student needs to do is fill out the FAFSA -- the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This allows the student to be considered for government money, but he or she will want to get their application in as soon as possible. The aid is relinquished on a first-come, first-serve basis.
In general, it's a good idea to fill out the FAFSA right away. Many schools require that it be completed before they'll consider a student for merit-based aid, which is given to whom the school considers will be an asset to their student body. Merit-based aid can account for over one-third of college tuition costs.
Welham also suggests refraining from putting too much money in your child's name. The penalty counts four times what it would against the parents when being considered for financial aid. Also, you don't want the student to work too much in the year before heading to college, as the income will count against him or her and can affect the amount of aid received.
Gender also plays a role in applying for aid. Currently, 60 percent of college students are female, so schools are willing to offer incentives for males to attend their school. That being said, there are less women in the fields of engineering, science and technology, so universities may offer money to female students who are gifted in those areas.
The high costs of college tuition are a concern for many families, but by following these tips, students can potentially save thousands.