Experts: 8 ways to financially prepare for college

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

OKLAHOMA CITY - College is a common path for American students, but not many families can afford the skyrocketing cost of higher education.

According to the College Board report, tuition for public four-year colleges has increased an average of 3.5 percent each year over the past decade.

However, the Oklahoma Society of Certified Public Accountants says there are a few ways that you can lessen the burden.

  • Research and compare colleges - Four year colleges are less expensive for in-state students, so you may consider staying close to home. Also, community colleges are usually cheaper and provide transferable college credit for the first two years of school.
  • Use Section 529 plans - Section 529 plans allow tax-free earnings on the investments at federal and state levels, as long as the investment is used for qualified college educational expenses. Many states, including Oklahoma, allow a tax deduction for its own state income tax on amounts contributed.
  • Set up a Coverdell Savings Account - This account can be established for a beneficiary by people below certain income limits. The money invested can be tax free as long as it is used for qualified educational expenses.
  • Apply for federal financial aid - The federal government provides need-based financial aid, like grants, loans and work study programs for middle to low-income parents. A Pell Grant does not need to be repaid and is given to those who meet major need-based requirements. A Free Application for Federal Student Aid can be completed to determine eligibility for federal financial aid.
  • Apply for scholarships - Scholarships are tax free and do not need to be repaid as long as the student meets the scholarship requirements.
  • Check tax credits and deductions - For those who have not received sufficient financial aid, tax credits and deductions are available.
  • Involve the student - Students can save money earned from summer jobs and they can stay home and commute to a local college so they don't have room and board costs. They can also work part-time to meet financial obligations.
  • Weigh your costs against benefits - College can be a great place to find meaning in life and meet different people, but technology classes and the military are other options after high school.

See a mistake? Report a typo here.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.