Some experts believe that if children are actively involved in planning for their higher education – including the financial aspects – they may be more committed when entering college and ultimately may have a more successful experience than they would have had otherwise.
Even students in the sixth, seventh, or eighth grade can begin to earn money, learn about sources of financial aid and research potential colleges. These activities may help them experience the benefits and satisfaction of planning for the future, instill the idea that your family values higher education, and provide an understanding that education is both a personal development goal and a financial investment.
As you discuss their career goals and college plans, this investment aspect can be a meaningful part of the discussion. Establishing a savings account that your child contributes to that is earmarked for education expenses may be a good way to make this concept very real and present in their lives.
This also gives you an opportunity to teach basic lessons about compounding, investing, and other money management issues.
Highlighting the investment aspect of may also help when discussing such present-day concerns as:
- Maintaining high academic standards and pursuing more challenging courses to support scholarship and grant applications
- Taking advantage of “advanced placement” or other courses that offer college credits while in high school, in so far as your school system or local college offer them. Earning these credits while in high school can be a very cost-effective way of reducing the number of courses your student will need to take when at university.
- Earning money. High school students can set aside a portion of their wages from part-time or summer jobs for higher education expenses.
- Getting organized. College planning encompasses numerous details, including visiting institutions that they may want to attend, applying for financial aid, obtaining transcripts and letters of recommendation, and meeting deadlines.