How to help your child prepare for education beyond high school

Parents can begin to prepare their children for college early by:

• helping them take the right junior high and high school courses based on the type of school they wish to enroll in after high school.
• encouraging them to maintain good grades throughout their high school experience.
• helping them decide on the right school by researching the school’s curriculum, the size of the school, the type of school, and a school’s affordability. Parents should also encourage campus visits.
• helping them obtain and complete admissions applications.
• assisting them with essays and preparing for admissions interviews.

Home Schooling

The first important thing is to have your homeschooled child contact the admissions offices at the colleges that interest him or her.

Different colleges have different requirements for homeschooled students, so be prepared to tailor the application package for each school. Most admissions offices will be interested in the level and intensity of the course work your child has completed. Be sure to find out whether the college requires a transcript of completed courses. Sometimes, colleges request a list of the books used and any completed course materials. Your child’s GPA will probably not matter as much as factors such as college entrance exam scores, personal essays, and interviews.

Many colleges find it useful to have a portfolio of the homeschooled student’s work. In addition to information such as grades and test scores, the portfolio might include writing samples, computer programming projects, awards, lists of books read, newspaper clippings about volunteer work, etc.

In addition, your child might want to consider enrolling at a local community college. Some homeschoolers find community college a good way to “try out? a college environment and to build a record of courses and grades beyond the home transcript.

You and your child can learn more through networking with other homeschoolers who are applying – or have been admitted – to college.

Information taken from Federal Student Aid:
Please see the link above for additional information.

Financial Preparation
Financial Literacy
Financial literacy is the education on the management of personal finances and is an essential part of planning and paying for postsecondary education. You’ll find links to Web sites that provide information on money management, handling credit and debt, and information on consumer protection.

You should begin saving as early as possible. The average in-state tuition and fees for full-time undergraduate students for 2008-09, before student financial aid was deducted, was $2,923 for a public two-year college and $13,298 for a four-year public university. Private four-year schools averaged $33,315 in 2008-09.
(Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Higher Education General Information Survey.)
Many state governments now offer innovative college savings programs. The College Savings Plans Network (an affiliate of the National Association of State Treasurers) provides information about these plans and links from their Web site to the many state plans.

College Savings Calculator
Use this handy calculator to determine how much you could or should be saving to meet college expenses, and how to maximize your savings efforts.
FinAid, an online financial aid resource, has a number of online savings calculators to help plan your savings and project your financial returns. They also can help you project college costs and student loan payments.

Tax Benefits and Prepaid Tuition Plans
For more information on ways to help finance your child’s education, including an education IRA, click here.

Another funding option is the Federal PLUS Loan program. Click here to visit the Funding section of our site, where we describe PLUS Loans as well as other federal loans, grants, and work-study.
Other borrowing options involve leveraging personal investments or your home’s equity.
More and more students and parents are using private loans or credit cards to finance postsecondary education. Because these types of consumer debt usually carry far higher interest rates than federal student loans, you should consider them a last resort. For information about sources of federal, state, and private financial aid, visit our Looking for Student Aid  page.

Information taken from Federal Student Aid:
Please see the link above for additional information.

More information for parents can be found @

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