Figuring out how to save for college can be just as important as deciding what to major in, or which school to attend. It’s never too early to start to save money as a high school student, especially as higher education costs continue to soar. Check out some of these tips for how to start saving up money for college while you are still in high school.
Advancing Yourself with AP Classes
Saving up for college in high school doesn’t have to be just about pinching pennies. Certain AP Exam scores can allow incoming freshmen to skip introductory college courses or gain credit toward graduation.
Chances are, with an AP Exam score of 3 or higher, you could earn credit from your college.
The College Board reports that nearly all colleges and universities in the U.S. offer credit, advanced placement, or both based on your AP scores.
Earning college credit before you even step foot on campus freshman year can be a great way to save money on future college classes in the long run. You might even be able to graduate early, which could mean thousands of dollars in savings depending on which university you attend. Of course, there are fees to take the AP Exams, but that amount may be offset by the amount of credit hours you’re able to gain if you score well.
Most colleges have a policy outlining the minimum scores needed to earn credit for specific AP Exams, plus how much credit will be awarded and how it applies to your degree or graduation requirements. The College Board offers an AP credit policy search online , but it’s wise to double check with your individual school.
In addition to helping you get credit to meet graduation requirements sooner, AP courses and exams can help you save for college in other ways. According to the College Board, students who take AP courses and exams are sometimes able to graduate early or skip certain introductory courses required to graduate. Some students have reported shaving off an entire year of school using AP credits, making it a plausible way to save money on future college classes as a high school student.
Picking up a Part-time or Summer Job
Skyrocketing college prices have made it basically impossible to only work to pay your way through college anymore, according to a 2018 Balancing Work and Learning study from Georgetown University. However, working in high school and saving for college can certainly help cut down some costs when it comes to paying for things like books, meals, or off-campus rent.
Recently, some companies with part-time and entry-level jobs — perfect for high school students — have started offering tuition support or reimbursement for employees. At Starbucks, for instance, any benefits-eligible employee is able to get 100% of their tuition reimbursed for a first-time bachelor’s degree through Arizona State University’s online program. Working at Chipotle, you can receive up to $5,250 from the company for tuition assistance every year.
And at Amazon, their Career Choice Program offers to prepay 95% of tuition and fees for certain certificates and associate degrees in high-demand fields, up to $12,000 over four years.
The kind of degree you choose could also add up to big savings in the long run. For most students pursuing higher education, high school is when you have to decide on your major and career path. If it’s of interest to you, you could consider a job where student loan forgiveness is available once you graduate.
Those working for a government organization or a not-for-profit might qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), where the remaining balance of Direct Loans from the federal government could be forgiven after 10 years of qualifying payments. Teachers are eligible for some federal loan forgiveness, too. Federal work-study is also another option to keep in mind. Offered as part of your overall financial aid package from the federal government, a work-study job is a part-time job meant to help students pay education expenses while in school.
Working a part-time or summer job can help you tackle how to save money for college while in high school, as long as you keep your savings goals realistic and have a plan in mind for what the money will be used for in school.
Managing Expenses by Budgeting
It’s never too early to start good money habits, such as maintaining a balanced budget. For current high schoolers, you could start with a simple spreadsheet that tracks your income, like allowance or any work you do. Then subtract any necessities, like gas or car insurance. The remaining amount is what you have for fun and entertainment, but also what you have to contribute to savings for college or other finance goals. One popular tip taken from the 50/30/20 budget rule is to put 20% of your income toward savings for long-term money goals, like saving for school.
Starting to save in high school means you could end up with less financial burdens during college. When making a college budget, make sure you research what things like books, transportation, rent, and groceries are going to cost in the area.
You can then look at what you might be able to cut in order to save more, like smaller meal plans, off-campus housing, renting used textbooks, or taking the bus rather than bringing your car.
Part of your budget and planning can also include estimating your student loan payments. Once you receive your financial aid package, after submitting your FAFSA®, you can estimate how much time it might take you to pay off your loans after school, and what it could cost you every month.
Having a budget in high school can help you start to allocate money toward savings and help you stay on track once you enter college so that you know exactly what you are able to spend and save each month.
Switching up Your Savings Account
A high-yield checking or savings account can earn you significantly more money based on the interest. This could help your college savings fund grow quicker.
If you have regular paychecks, one of the easiest ways to save a bit more money is to split up your direct deposit between your checking and savings account. This way, you guarantee some money automatically ends up in savings, making it a little harder to spend. Or, set up an automatic transfer with your bank for a set amount every paycheck, so that the process isn’t manual and you don’t have to remind yourself to save.
Different Ways to Pay for College
The U.S. government offers aid in the form of federal student loans, but also grants and some scholarships, which can help drastically reduce the cost of college. It’s important when applying to schools to consider all of the costs involved. You can estimate your financial aid online ahead of time, so you can make an educated decision about where to attend school.
Your savings for college will probably come from many different places and in various forms. Remember that savings can be more than just money you have tucked away for tuition payments. Scholarships, credit hours, or work-study jobs can also help finance some of your tuition costs.
SoFi and Student Loans
High school is the perfect time to start looking into your student loan options.
SoFi now offers private student loans, which are fee-free and can be applied directly to your education costs. In the spirit of complete transparency, you should exhaust all of your federal grant and loan options before you consider SoFi as your private loan lender.
If you do decide a private student loan is the right fit for your education, we’re happy to help! SoFi offers flexible payment options and terms, online application, and best of all, there are no hidden fees.
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