Without a college degree, employment options are limited, so the majority of high school graduates will consider going on for a college education if they can afford it. College tuition costs across the nation are rising annually, making it increasingly difficult for parents to support their children’s post-secondary education. While financial aid is available at many institutions primarily through students filing the FAFSA application each year, competition is fierce, and most parents or students end up paying at least part of their education fees.
However, saving money for college can be difficult for teens, who are also learning to drive, buying a first car, and paying auto insurance as well as high school senior activity fees like prom and the senior trip. Although Mom and Dad may be helping with these costs, many teens are already working summer jobs or part-time during the school year to assist. Most families agree that college is a priority, so helping teens learn to save toward college expenses is important. Here are a few ways parents can guide their kids toward earning income for the college fund.
Few teenagers are farsighted enough to want to put away money for college. Asking them to deposit every fast food job paycheck into a savings account can reduce their motivation to work. Instead, parents can offer to match whatever amount of their earnings students choose to save toward college, whether it be twenty-five percent, fifty percent, etc. Fund-matching is a great incentive for young people as they watch their savings accounts grow quickly with the help of parents’ matching investment.
Instead of regular teenage jobs like lawn care or babysitting, encourage your teen to try a creative job. Landscape design is a step up from moving lawns, while tutoring is somewhat more prestigious than childcare. If your teen shows promise in a future occupation or creative enterprise, urge them to look for work in related fields. A love of books might translate into a part-time library job, while writing enjoyment could lead to writing freelance articles for young adult publications like Boys’ Life and other teen periodicals that often pay $50 to $100 per article.
To help students become more community-minded while earning college money, suggest an environment-friendly service like recycling. Collecting aluminum, old tires, or even newspapers can rack up a fair amount of earnings to plump up the college fund while teaching teens the value of keeping neighborhoods clean and litter-free. Public service awareness is an important skill often taught in higher education, so this could be a helpful preparatory activity for college, as well.
Teenagers should learn how to budget their earnings, no matter how meagre, before graduating high school. Teaching them the value of money and how to use credit wisely are life-long skills that can help to prepare them for college. Show them how to use a spreadsheet to chart their income and expenses, and how to plot a monthly budget and a yearly estimated forecast. As they assume more control over their finances, teens will begin to appreciate the opportunities and limits that come with income, and the role that saving for college plays in the process. Moreover, they may begin to look forward even more to college in understanding the increased earning potential a degree will give them.
High school students should gradually be given more authority over income that they generate or spend. Parents might even share some of the regular household information to illustrate broader budgeting principles. As they become accustomed to the big picture of earning, spending, and saving, teens will develop greater respect for the power of education and a future career.