College Savings Month pushes financial readiness for higher education transition

DELMARVA – It’s no secret that the cost of higher education continues to rise and with the pandemic changing the financial situation for many families, local university officials are urging parents to act now to set their students up for success.

September is College Savings Month. The goal is to prep parents for the big change so that the price tag of college won’t impact your child’s success.

“So for us that process was a little easier I must say due to Alex’s hard work,” said Melissa Delise.

Due to that hard work, Melisa Delise is now the mother of a University of Delaware student.

Delise says they worked ahead with researching schools, scholarships, and created a timeline to get things done.

Yet, it was Alex’s grades that ultimately sealed the deal, something financial aid advisors say opens the door to many resources. “Every college of course wants the best and brightest they can have. And a lot of times students that show that investment in themselves get more resources handed to them,” said Delaware State University’s Executive Director of Financial Aid Al Dorsett.

Yet, that’s not the story of every student, as many across the country are accumulating generational debt. “Then they end up with a lot of student loan debt. Their parents in addition to the students also incur parent loan debt in order to make up for the difference their student may need for the cost of attendance,” said University of Maryland Eastern Shore Financial Aid Counselor Vera Davis.

That’s why experts urge parents and students to be honest about what’s truly affordable for them, to avoid that debt. “Every student may say I want to go to California or Florida and tuition is 60k and I can’t afford 60k. Is that truly realistic for me?” said Dorsett.

For many students like Alex, who’s the first of his siblings to attend college, planning can be stressful.

Despite this, I’m told the biggest resource available is simply admitting that help is needed. “We got confused with some of these FAFSA applications and at the time we were going through the pandemic and school from home and my child’s counselor walked us right through everything,” said Delise.

“The fact that I may go to a community organization, or I may be a part of a club, or playing a sport and have a coach or something else, they’re individuals I can make a part of my team. All I have to do is speak up,” said Dorsett.

Experts also urge parents to inform their students about other costs, as many may not be familiar with managing bills and keeping up with a budget.

Parents can also check out 529 plans available in your state, which are one of the easiest ways to save for college.

Categories: Delaware, Education, Local News, Maryland