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Increase Your College Financing IQ

This spring, many high-school seniors will realize their dream of getting into college, while their families will realize the task of financing that education. In today’s SHE-conomy—where women are on the verge of outnumbering men in the workforce and control 51 percent of U.S. wealth—more women are managing their family’s financial planning, including saving for college. In fact, 66 percent of women consider themselves the Chief Financial Officers of their household, according to Women & Co.’s latest study, Women and Affluence 2010

To help boost your college financing smarts as you prepare to send your teen off to campus this fall, Lisa Caputo, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Women & Co., and Linda Descano, CFA®, President of Women & Co. offer the following tips:

  • Think big: it’s more than just tuition. To have an accurate understanding of a college’s actual price tag, pay attention to all expenses, including room and board expenses, books, and any additional fees.
  • Identify the hidden fees. Your teen’s college may advertise its global study abroad program, unique courses and top-notch facilities, but you might need to pay additional fees for these. Some fees could be mandatory (e.g., health services, orientation, student activities fees), while others could be optional (e.g., fees for university health insurance, art and science courses). Check with the school’s bursar’s office for a complete list of applicable fees so that you aren’t surprised when you see the bill.
  • Make a budget with your teen and help her/him stick to it. College is full of financial temptations for students – front-row tickets to the hottest concert, the newest laptop, spring break at the beach and more. So, remind your student to keep the big financial picture in mind.
  • Help them understand their spending habits before they start school. Many students might think they can take out loans or work more to match their new spending habits. Explain to your child that this behavior could affect their studies or involvement in campus life. Also, remind him or her that credit cards are not free money, but a loan that must be paid back, with interest if not paid in full each month. Involve your teen in the family finances to help them learn to balance a budget and develop healthy spending habits.
  • Seek professional advice. Consider sitting down with a financial professional to help you develop a budget for financing your child’s education that includes all the hidden costs of college.

For more information, visit Women & Co. is a vehicle for insightful women to build their financial knowledge, bolster their confidence and create financial strategies that will help them achieve their goals. Through access to education, resources, and a community of financially minded women, Women & Co. is the place where wisdom, wealth, and women meet.

1 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2009
2 Federal Reserve Board, 2009