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Who Should be a Part of Your Paying for College Strategy?

Having an aspiring college student in the family can instill great pride in Latino families. It’s a goal shared by families whether it’s the first generation or fifth generation that will be working towards a degree. In order to make this dream a reality, families must put into practice a sound Paying for College Strategy that reaches out to everyone that might be in a position to help. But who exactly can help? Who should be part of a Paying for College Strategy?  

First: You!
The person who will benefit most from a well-organized Paying for College Strategy is you! It’s only fair that you should be the first person who will contribute both financially as well as with time and effort to ensure that your college education is funded. Personal savings, earnings from part-time work and inheritances are all legitimate sources. By being an active supporter of your own education, you will ease the process of asking others for help.

In order to get a college education, families must put into practice a sound Paying for College Strategy that reaches out to everyone that might be in a position to help.

Second: Parents
Your parents – whether married, unmarried or divorced - have an obligation to help you with your Paying for College Strategy. Even if your parents aren’t in a position to write big checks, they can still contribute. Beyond the financial contribution that financial aid programs may require, parents need to provide emotional support during the stressful time of planning for college. Sometimes students, in an attempt to show how independent they are, will marginalize their parents during this process. Don’t make your life harder by rejecting help from your parents.

Third: Family
Latino families share many admirable qualities; among these are the value we place on extended family relationships. Our tíos, tías, primos and abuelos tend to be active members of our lives. Latino college applicants have a great advantage over students from other cultures that don’t keep close relationships with their relatives. Your family is an additional resource that can help contribute towards the cost of a college education. Even if you don’t have a rich uncle, modest support from many relatives will go a long way.

Fourth: School
The college or university you plan to attend is an excellent source of non-loan financial assistance in the form of scholarships and grants. A recently released study by the National Association of College and University Business Officers indicates that 85.5% of students at private institutions receive scholarships and grants to reduce their tuition. On average, students save about 50% of the total tuition cost through these "tuition discounts".

Latino applicants have a great advantage over students from other cultures that don’t keep close relationships with relatives. Your family is an additional resource that can help contribute towards the cost of a college.

Fifth: Uncle Sam
Federally-funded or administered financial aid loan programs are typically what most students automatically assume will pay for their college education. But a well-designed Paying for College Strategy won’t assume this and in fact will try to minimize it. Borrowing money from the government to pay for college can get very expensive soon after you graduate college. The opportunity cost of paying down loans instead of saving or investing for the future can have significant economic consequences. Using as much money as possible from non-loan sources to minimize or completely avoid loans is the best approach.

It’s not a sprint or a marathon; it’s a relay
Developing a successful Paying for College Strategy is a team effort. It just isn’t realistic – or recommended – that you tackle it on your own. Part of being a successful college student is learning how to persuade others to work together for a common goal. Preparing a Paying for College Strategy requires having people, organizations and even the government working together for your benefit.

Don’t be shy about asking for help even if you have to convince people that don’t know you very well to help you. The lessons learned along the way will serve you in college and beyond.

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