Yeah, everyone loves summer vacation. But this isn’t the time for your kids to take a vacation from funding their college educations. They deserve to chill a little after a long school year, but summer is also a great time for them to take advantage of financial aid opportunities, and get college paid for (in between trips to the pool).
Whether they’re college-bound teens or already in college and home for their break, here are the three most important applications they should fill out this summer.
Guess what your most powerful wealth-building tool is? It’s not your investments, and it’s not credit card reward points (please tell me you and your kids are staying away from those). It’s your income.
That means in order for your kids to make enough cash to get them through college debt-free, they need to have a job. It might be June, but it’s not too late for them to find summer work as a server, lifeguard, theme park attendant—you name it. They might even want to build their entrepreneurship skills by creating a business, where they can mow lawns, babysit, walk dogs, or house-sit with a flexible schedule. Maybe they don’t want seasonal work, because they want to keep their job during the school year. That’s great too! They should just keep in mind they might need to cut back on their hours to have a healthy work/school balance during the semester. If they’re going to college out of state (which I don’t recommend unless you can afford to do so without debt), encourage them to look for job opportunities in their college town, and get started on applications while they’re home for the summer.
If your kids are headed to college—or currently in college—and haven’t filled out the FAFSA for the 2019–2020 school year, they need to get on that now. Go to FAFSA.gov to find the form. Colleges use the FAFSA to determine how much money to offer your kids through scholarships, grants, and student loans. Just make sure your kids don’t accept any student loan offers they might get. We’re going to college debt-free, people!
Luckily, the FAFSA isn’t as confusing as it sounds and takes less than 30 minutes to complete. Every student should fill it out, regardless of their family’s financial situation. There’s no income cutoff to be eligible for aid, and your kids won’t know how much aid they could actually get unless they try.
The FAFSA form isn’t the only way to get scholarships. There are thousands of scholarships available to students for all kinds of reasons (getting good grades, writing a killer essay, or being a member of a minority group). I’d encourage your kids to set specific goals for the number of scholarships they want to apply for per week. Then, make it happen! There’s no limit to how many they can apply for, so they could potentially fund their whole college education through scholarships alone! Check out AnthonyONeal.com to see my top recommendations for reliable scholarship resources.
About Anthony ONeal
Since 2003, Anthony ONeal has helped thousands of students make good decisions with their money, relationships and education to live a well-balanced life. He’s the National Best-Selling Author of Graduate Survival Guide: 5 Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make in College, and he travels the country spreading his encouraging message to help teens and young adults transition into the real world. His latest book and video kit, Teen Entrepreneur Toolbox, released in April 2018.
You can follow Anthony on Twitter and Instagram @AnthonyONeal or facebook.com/aoneal.