It happens to every parent—it’s not just you. The first day of school ritual goes like this: 1) Pack lunches. 2) Take smiling first-day photos at the front door. 3) Wave goodbye. 4) Panic that your child is suddenly another year older, and you feel like you’re late to college planning.
You are not alone. Almost every parent feels this way.
What can you do right now, if you feel like you’re late to college planning?
1. Don’t worry right now that you haven’t saved enough money to pay for college.
Fear and worry can be paralyzing. Some parents feel so fearful about not having planned earlier that they repeatedly put college planning on the back burner.
Don’t be that parent.
Let go of fear and worry over what you haven’t done, and look closely at all the clever, creative strategies you can use right now.
2. Don’t jump to the conclusion that a state university will be the bargain answer to all your problems.
Sure, the sticker price looks low at first. There are multiple reasons, though, that the state university is likely not your bargain option. Certain private colleges may actually end up costing your family less out of pocket. You can read the emphatic article I’ve written on this subject here.
3. Even if you feel you’re very late to college planning, just start where you are right now, and do what you can.
I’ll provide a resource that will help you, below.
4. Don’t rely on the internet for college planning advice.
It’ll take you years to sift through everything the internet has to say about college planning. The bits and pieces of info and conflicting messages you hear from online resources will drive you crazy. Plus, a huge percentage of what’s currently on the internet regarding college planning is sorely out of date, since President Barack Obama drastically changed US college financing on September 13th, 2015, and most of the world has not yet caught up.
You need a resource that will give you fast, accurate, specific instructions that the internet can’t provide. I’ll provide that resource for you below.
5. Don’t fret or worry that your child isn’t applying for college scholarships.
Getting private scholarships is only a tiny part of the process of getting kids through college debt-free and into jobs they love afterward. There are hundreds of other strategies for getting college paid for and getting your kid to a happy, fulfilled career life.
I’ll provide a resource that will help you with this, below.
6. Plan to fill out the FAFSA form on time, every year, even if you’re rich.
Filling out the FAFSA form puts your child in line for nine separate federal student aid programs, over 600 state aid programs, and most of the college-based (institutional) aid available in the United States. Don’t jump to the conclusion that you “probably make too much to qualify for any help.” You don’t know that.
Read my entire article on why you should fill out the FAFSA even if you’re rich, and then plan to submit a FAFSA form every October 1st that there’s even a chance you’ll have a child in college the following fall.
7. Grab onto this resource, and use it for all your college planning starting right now.
My book LAUNCH: How to Get Your Kids Through College Debt-Free and Into Jobs They Love Afterward provides the clear, step-by-step college planning instructions you need right now. Yes, the chapters of this book have titles like, “What to Do in May of 8th Grade,” and “What to Do in September of 11th Grade,” but don’t worry about that. There are many strategies you can use even if your child is in 12th grade right now.
If you’re feeling late to college planning, get the book here and read chapters 1 and 2 only. After just this short bit of reading, you will feel on fire and inspired, and you will know exactly what to do next to get your kids through college debt-free and into jobs they love afterward.
8. Then, take this important next step.
After you’ve read chapters 1 and 2, read through the rest of the book with a pen and a notebook in hand. Write down every strategy I suggest that you know you can use starting right now. When the book suggests strategies you can’t use, don’t worry about them. Just discard those strategies and look for things you know you can do.
Create your list of strategies, and then start work on the ones you can do.
Remember, most parents only use a fraction of the ideas in my book, and they still get their kids through college debt-free and into great jobs after college.
Reading through this book will take you 7 hours—but these 7 hours will be some of the most liberating, exciting hours you will spend on your parenting and on your family finances this decade.
If you’ve found valuable info in this article, please help me by tweeting it out to the people who follow you.
I’m Jeannie Burlowski, and I’m the author of the book recommended above:
You can “Look Inside” the book on Amazon for free by going to:
(Tell your friends.)
You can see why financial planners and wealth managers love LAUNCH, here.
You can see the top 9 questions parents are asking me about LAUNCH, here.
The optimal strategy is to read just one chapter of LAUNCH every 1–3 months while your child’s in middle school and high school. Do this and you’ll find out every viable strategy for debt-free college at exactly the right time to implement it.
And if your child’s already well past middle school? That’s OK; you can run to catch up. But the process of getting your kids through college debt-free goes more smoothly the earlier you start it—especially if you’re not planning to save up any money to pay for college.
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What about you?
What strategies have you found for doing effective college planning—even if you think you’re late? Comment below or LIKE Jeannie Burlowski Author on Facebook, find this post on that page, and let’s talk about it there.
Who is Jeannie Burlowski?
Jeannie is a full-time academic strategist, author, speaker, and podcast host. Her writing, speaking, and podcasting help parents set their kids up to graduate college debt-free and move directly into careers they excel at and love. Her work has been featured in publications such as The Huffington Post, USA Today, NerdWallet, and US News and World Report, and on CBS News.