Other Youth Topics

Financing Higher Education

Postsecondary education is important for future economic stability for the individual and the nation. Unfortunately, the high cost to attend a two- or four-year institution of higher education can keep lower and middle-income students from achieving an academic degree. A student must make a number of financial decisions to make higher education a possibility.

Prospective college students need to think about where they will go for college, how they will pay for it, and how they will manage their finances during school and beyond. Institutions of higher education, both two- and four-year, can help young people and other students gain financial capability.

A report from the Financial Literacy and Education Commission (FLEC) (PDF, 48 pages) describes key financial decisions facing college students, including:

  • how much to work,
  • how to spend and the value of budgeting,
  • how to manage credit cards,
  • how to use a bank or credit union account, and
  • how to manage household finances.

The U.S. Department of Education’s College Affordability and Transparency Center provides a number of tools to compare schools by criteria such as cost, major, state spending on secondary education, graduation rates, and campus safety. These criteria are important to include in making the decision on which school to attend so that students can make smart choices for the short- and long-term management of their finances and helping to ensure their financial security.

To directly influence the financial capability and financial decision-making of students, the FLEC report recommends that institutions of higher education:

  • implement effective financial education programs and build a culture of financial capability,
  • prepare financial educators,
  • provide opportunities for students to receive one-on-one counseling,
  • provide students with peer-learning opportunities,
  • provide access to cost calculators and customized information, and
  • support research and evaluation on what works.

Resources

StudentAid.gov
This website is for parents and students as they navigate the financial aid process, from thinking about higher education through repaying loans.

Financial Aid Toolkit
This resource is for counselor, mentors, and individuals/organizations helping students through the financial aid process — this site has some great presentations, ideas of events, and content you can use.

Paying for College (from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau)
The tools and resources on this website are intended to help prospective college students and those in college make informed financial decisions about how to pay for college. Here, site visitors can compare financial aid offers and learn about student loan repayment options.

Federal Student Aid
This website is for Financial Aid Professionals and consolidates guidance, resources, and information related to the administration and processing of Title IV federal student aid into one online site for use by the entire financial aid community.

Preparing for College (from Federal Student Aid)
This website provides informative checklists that can help young people prepare academically and financially for college.

Repaying Student Loans (from Federal Student Aid)
This website offers information to help people with student loans manage the repayment process, and the site answers questions regarding loans and repayment.