I cannot stress the importance of parents and children discussing how college will get paid for. Yes, most families can’t pay the average cost of tuition for four years. But can they help pay for books or meal plans?

Like I have suggested in “Your 4-year Plan”article, the financial talk should be had in the freshman year of high school and the summer before the senior year. Having the talk gives students an idea of how much money they will need to raise for college.

Parents/guardians should bring their pay-stubs, budget sheets/file (if they have any), and records for college savings (if there are any). Students should bring estimated college expenses from college brochure or website and their pay-stub (if they have a job). There should also be pencil/pen, paper, computer, and calculator.

Here are the questions that need to be answered during this discussion:

  • How much will one year college cost?
  • How much money is your parent(s)/guardians currently spending to feed, cloth, shelter, and take care of you?
  • Can they continue to spending that amount for the next 4-5 years? Are they willing to? And can they spend more than that amount if they are willing?
  • If the student continues to work or start working, how much will that help ease the financial burden?
  • How much is your college fund if you have one?
  • Are they any lottery scholarships you can get?
  • What grants and loans do you qualify for? (Use the FAFSA4caster at fafsa.gov.)

After this talk, you, the student, should have an idea of how much money you need to raise via scholarships, loans, and jobs to pay for college.

Keep in mind this talk is to make you aware of your situation. DO NOT GET MAD ABOUT YOUR SITUATION OR THINK YOU CAN’T GO TO COLLEGE.