College Cash

Let’s face it; kids are expensive. And, if you combine kids and college, most parents wonder how they are going to afford both. Going into debt seems to be the likely and lonely path. In fact, the Institute for College Access & Success[1] shows the average undergraduate leaves school with $26,600 in debt. Don’t panic yet! Cash out on these college savings ideas.

Earn back. Sign up for Sallie Mae’s Upromise, a rebate program offering up to 8% back on purchases from over 800 online stores and 10,000+ restaurants and grocery/drugstore items. Before college, the money can be transferred to a 529-plan or high-yield savings account. You can request a check to pay college expenses, and after graduation, use it to pay down loan payments. Grandparents and other relatives can also sign up for your child’s benefit.

Scholarship gaming. There are literally tens of thousands of scholarships available for college, ranging from merit and need-based to group affiliation and contest based awards. On average, college students earn $2,800 in scholarships. Begin searching online at,, and Apply early and often. It may surprise you to learn that some college scholarships are directed at elementary students.

Barter and Trade. Target a wide-range of colleges including less expensive in-state schools and costly private schools. The aid packages at more expensive schools are often generous making them comparable to in-state programs, but you don’t know until you apply. You may be able to barter the financial aid package, so consider rejecting the initial offer. Let the school’s financial aid office know why your family can’t afford the expenses and negotiate a new package. Write to your teen’s 1st choice school about a better offer and ask if they can match it.

Your student can learn a valuable economics lesson and lower cost of their education.


[1] See how Arizona stacks-up with this link.

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