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Preparing to Pay for College

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By this time, many students have been accepted into college and are making plans to go. But some parents maybe fretting about how they are going to pay for it.

Sam and Patti Ponzio consider themselves lucky. Their son Eric has been accepted into his first college of choice, Texas A&M University. And thanks to Eric's good grades and hard work, scholarships will help cover the high cost of tuition.

"We encouraged Eric to apply for a lot of scholarships and he was able to do so. But we had saved some money for him to go to college, said Sam Ponzio.

"I came to the counseling office pretty regularly filling out scholarships and writing extra essays," said Eric Ponzio.

Eric's persistence will also help out his family in the future.

"If he can get scholarship money, then that saves us the money for our second child and saves us the money for our retirement," said Sam Ponzio.

But not all families are as prepared for college as the Ponzios. That's where Financial planner Ernie Wright comes in. He helps parents find ways to pay for their kids' academic futures. And one of those is borrowing from a retirement plan.

"I'm not advocating that you take the money out of your retirement to send your kid to school, but if you have the opportunity to borrow it and pay it back, I think that's a wise use,” said Wright.

Other options include College 529 plans, Clover Dale Education accounts, and investment accounts. Talk to your bank or a financial advisor about which one is right for you.

The current trend for most colleges has been that tuition rates go up every year. So parents and students need to keep that in mind each semester.

Once a student is in college there may be even more financial aid and scholarship opportunities available. The Ponzio family says they will continue to look for them.

"There's a lot out there. You just have to seek it out. You have to make the effort to seek it out," said Sam Ponzio.