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4 Ways Parents Can Help Students Prepare for College Financially

prepare-for-collegeIt’s without question that college is the starting line for fresh experiences and a new academic journey. It’s also a time to discover new interests, set and achieve new goals, and form lasting friendships. For some students, college is the official start of adulthood, which means taking on financial responsibilities and experiencing independence for the first time.

Aside from the upfront investment that moving away to college brings, your son or daughter may be responsible for taking out student loans, applying for scholarships, or putting money aside from part-time job or paid internship earnings. While managing finances can be burdensome for a young adult, there are ways to alleviate the sticker shock of new responsibilities and help your child prepare for success.

4 Ways to prepare for college expenses

1. Plan for financial success.

Financial independence is a critical point in your son’s or daughter’s life, especially if there’s been little or no financial responsibility in the past. The best thing your son or daughter can do is to apply for a part-time job in high school and save as much as possible before college.

To encourage financial freedom when the first semester of college arrives, encourage your son or daughter to apply for a work-study program or a part-time job. While you want your children to focus on their studies, it’s paramount that they begin to take some responsibility, especially since college is such a huge investment.

Work-study programs are a form of financial aid and are available all around campus, from the fitness center to the library, making them accessible and easy to apply for, if your child qualifies. The benefits of a work-study program include working on campus and tuition assistance, and some colleges even cover the cost of room and board in exchange for labor. But be sure to do your research before dismissing a part-time job.

Unlike a work-study job, a part-time job has no limitations on how much your son or daughter can earn. Plus, your child can gain real-life experience, such as working with others in the community. It’s also a chance to prepare a resume and learn the importance of managing a weekly paycheck.

2. Educate your child on the importance of a budget.

If you’re planning to finance your child’s college experience—tuition, room and board, books, food, and fun—be strategic. Instead of depositing a semester’s worth of money at once, consider making weekly or bi-weekly deposits. This can help teach the importance of sticking to a budget. Your child may also be less tempted to spend money on unnecessary outings with friends or on impulse shopping at the mall.

Aside from strategic budgeting on your end, consider assisting your son or daughter with managing day-to-day finances. While this sounds relatively basic, setting a personal budget is especially important because your children are still learning about the concept and importance of managing his or her finances.

The first step to creating a personal budget is to take a look at the financial instruments involved. Does your child have a savings or checking account? How often will you contribute to the account? Using the source of income, you can determine where your child will be spending money and how much is needed each month to finance those expenses. And, if your son or daughter has a part-time job, factor those earnings into this budget, too. While you want your children to have fun, it’s important to convey that education will benefit them now and in the future, and that saving for and during college will serve them well over time.

3. Let your child face natural consequences.

Mistakes are natural and an essential passage to adulthood. Say, for example, that your child makes a decision to open a credit card. While you can discuss the seriousness of credit-card debt, if your child spends too much on concert tickets or an outfit for the spring formal, consequences will follow.

Fortunately, young adults “have to show sufficient income before they can be approved unless they have a cosigner,” reports Reyna Gobel in a Forbes article, “What Parents of Soon-to-Be College Students Need to Know About Credit Cards.” She interviewed Beverly Harzog, author of “Confessions of a Credit Junkie,” who noted that “The CARD Act also banned gift giving to entice college students to sign up for credit cards. No more free T-shirts to sign up for a credit card. And the CARD Act also prevents card issuers from sending pre-approved offers to anyone under 21 without the individual’s consent.”

Finally, don’t take a risk by co-signing a credit card for your child. A credit card is a financial decision young adults should make independently, when they’re ready to handle financial responsibility on their own.

4. Have a talk about finances.

The cost of tuition is often the most critical element in the college-planning process. While the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) can ultimately alleviate the cost of tuition, it’s important to discuss any financial limitations you may have. If your family is undergoing circumstances that affect your financial situation, be sure to document that on the financial-aid application.

In addition to financial aid, your son or daughter could benefit from applying for a grant or scholarship, which your child won’t have to pay back after college graduation. According to Big Future by The College Board, “Students received a total of $122.7 billion in scholarships and grants in 2013-14. About 40% of this free money comes from the federal government and, to qualify, you need to fill out the FAFSA.” Your child can locate and apply to a variety of grants and scholarships from the government, colleges or universities, and private organizations.

If there are still some costs remaining after your child has completed the FAFSA and applied for outside scholarships and grants, you can help your child look into financing college through loans. Unlike scholarships and grants, loans must be paid back after graduation. The most common type is the Federal Perkins Loan, typically sourced from the college or university your child is attending. However, if the Perkins loan doesn’t cover the entire cost of college, you and your child can look into loans from an outside source, such as a bank or credit union.

Are you interested in learning more about helping your son or daughter manage personal finances and prepare for college? Check out our blog for a list of resources and related topics.

An Interview With Grace Miller on Her Pre-College Experience

pre-college-experienceHave you always wondered what The University of Vermont Summer Academy experience is really like? Students who participate in a pre-college program, such as Summer Academy, often finish the program feeling confident in the challenging level of academics they’ve completed and ready to succeed in a college environment.

Grace Miller, who’s finishing her junior year at Lake Region Union High School, completed one of UVM’s pre-college programs and is now accomplishing great things.

Continue Reading…

Facts About UVM’s Pre-College Costa Rica Study Abroad Program

costa-rica-study-abroadThe University of Vermont, in partnership with International Studies Abroad, is excited to offer a unique environmental program that examines the intersection of culture and conservation by observing, exploring, and learning in Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica. If you’re interested in traveling abroad, but you’re still deciding on a location, check out these fast facts before you book your travel. Continue Reading…

Three of the Best Summer Jobs for Teens

shutterstock_224468218-862444-editedSummer vacation is now officially in full swing. If you’re looking to make the most of your time off, consider finding a balance between enjoying your time in the sun and gaining professional experience. What better way to distribute your time between work and play than with a summer job? “That first summer job is often a rite of passage for a teen,” writes the staff at Forbes. “It’s the signal that you’re on your way to adulthood, and it’s also a method for earning money to pay for activities, interests or to stash away for post-secondary schooling. However, the type of summer job any teen opts for should be based upon his or her current and desired skill sets and on his or her ultimate career goals, thus proving that it’s never too early to start considering the future.”

Three of the best summer jobs for teens who want to build valuable skills before applying to college

Food-service worker

A job in the restaurant industry provides employees with an opportunity to challenge themselves in a diverse environment where the customers change, the menus evolve, and team collaboration is essential. Serving, hosting, or bussing tables is more challenging than it appears to patrons, as it’s typically physically and mentally demanding. Yet it’s highly rewarding, and not just financially. Teens will benefit from a variety of different earned skill sets, including the ability to maintain a calm demeanor under pressure, increase memory skills, build communication skills, and collaborate with staff members.


While internships are typically unpaid, especially for high school students, the experience you gain is often more rewarding in the long run than a paycheck. Internships will help students establish credibility on their resumes and can help them qualify for a higher-ranking position when it comes time to advance their career.

Students who put part of their focus toward obtaining, maintaining and, of course, thriving at their internship will experience a wealth of benefits–like the opportunity to determine if this is the path they want to follow–before they invest in a college education. This, of course, is also beneficial to parents, since they won’t have to spend thousands of dollars on a major that their child may come to find isn’t the right fit.

Nanny or babysitter

Caring for children can help you develop patience and communication skills, as well as demonstrate responsibility and maturity. While it can be a challenging job, babysitting can also be a lot of fun. After all, children are born with an imaginative spirit, so if you have a nurturing spirit, this work could be a good choice for you. Students interested in working as a school teacher or pediatrician someday might find this experience particularly valuable.

How to land the job

To begin your research, you can look on the “careers” page of the organizations you’re interested in or use different resources, such as your local newspaper. Now that you have a few ideas for your summer job, start preparing for your interview. This could include practice interviews with a parent or guardian, drafting a resume and cover letter, and depending on the position, shopping for professional attire. Impress your potential employer by arriving early and prepared and by following up with proper email or phone etiquette, if the contact doesn’t get in touch with you first.

5 High School Community Service Opportunities

high-school-community-service-opportunities“Giving back is a great way to fulfill your community service requirement for school or a club, build your resume, and make a difference in your community,” writes the staff at TeenLife. “But sometimes it’s difficult to find an exciting volunteer opportunity.” Whether it’s a passion for sustainability or nurturing the growth of the community, start by thinking of your interests and hobbies. From there you can see how you can turn them into a rewarding opportunity, such as a community service project.

5 rewarding high school community service opportunities

1. Donate your time to those who serve or are in need.

Why not donate your time to those who serve us every day? Whether it’s sending a care package or a thank-you letter to our troops, or raising awareness for military-focused charities by organizing a bake sale, volunteering your time to help others is an extremely rewarding extracurricular activity. Some other ideas include donating children’s books, clothes, perishables, and other materials to shelters or to Goodwill.

2. Share your knowledge.

For teens who thrive in a particular subject, consider becoming a tutor. As a tutor, you’ll have an opportunity to help others develop new skills, overcome obstacles, and really make a difference. According to USA Today, tutoring is one of the best part-time jobs for students. “When tutoring someone, you’re not just showing up and getting a series of tasks done — you’re making a difference in a student’s life,” writes Cathryn Sloane of USA Today. “Rather than catering to the needs of a bunch of customers who don’t necessarily appreciate the work you are doing, you are helping someone who actually wants to be helped.”

3. Become a camp counselor.

Not only do you get to spend the majority of the day outside engaging in activities like camping, sports, arts and crafts, and social events, but you’ll also gain a number of different life-long skills, such as leadership and independence. Did we mention it’s a great way to have fun and enjoy your summer, too?

4. Volunteer at a local animal shelter.

Local animal shelters are always eager to welcome new volunteers on board. While volunteers typically need to meet a few requirements, including age and commitment level, there are plenty of options available to get started as soon as possible. Volunteer opportunities range from walking dogs to helping with training. Contact your local animal shelter for more information.

5. Offer your time to kids in need.

Between the Special Olympics, local children’s hospitals, and the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, there’s no shortage of non-profit organizations that need volunteers. Build lasting relationships in the community and benefit from the reward of helping those in need through one of these programs.

To give you a little inspiration to get involved in the community, we’d like to introduce you to TeenLife, an organization that provides students with a comprehensive directory of community-service programs that help you not only improve academically and socially, but also use those skills to shape a hopeful and promising future. With 15,000 opportunities—and growing—for teens in grades 7 through 12, TeenLife offers you a unique opportunity to “develop a meaningful personal-experience portfolio, no matter the makeup of their individual interests, talents, and resources.”



The Most Important Skills to Learn in High School Internships

high-school-internshipsGiven today’s competitive job market, it comes as no surprise that high school students are the new competitors in the pool of candidates looking to land a coveted internship. Internships have a reputation of immersing aspiring professionals into a hands-on work environment, but that’s not all they’re worth. Internships provide students with an opportunity to boost their credibility and develop a number of different skills that will benefit them now and in the future. Continue Reading…

Are You Choosing the Right Elective Classes in High School?

elective-classes-in-high-schoolWhile the position statement is an important part of the college application, it often deters students from getting an early start on their essay. Why? Through a holistic admissions review, colleges and universities look for candidates who demonstrate personal growth, dedication, and leadership, among other important skills. But illustrating that in 650 words or less can be intimidating. Continue Reading…

David Fischer: On Getting Ahead With College-Level Courses

college-level-courses-899224-editedWhile most eighth-grade students are in the midst of developing their writing skills, gaining a solid understanding of algebraic principles, and spending their free time with their friends, David Fischer’s junior-high experience was quite the contrary.

Now a first-year computer science major at The University of Vermont, David’s UVM journey began in the eighth grade, where he supplemented the Common Core curriculum with college-level classes. A junior-high student learning on a college campus: impressive, right? Continue Reading…

What Does It Take to Be a High School Entrepreneur?

high-school-entrepreneurIt’s no secret that most students experience a wake-up call when they go from the predetermined high-school schedule to the more free-form college schedule. While there’s certainly more flexibility on the college side, one’s time is filled with more responsibilities that require organizing. But what if there were another way to get ahead, feel more prepared, and ultimately become successful—all before you step foot onto campus? Continue Reading…