Best ways to pay for your child’s college education

Whether your clients’ higher-education bills are a year or two away, or just arrived in the mail, you can calm even the most panicked family by informing them that there are more ways to meet the expense than just by writing a big, fat check.

Here are most of the methods clients can use to pay their kids’ education expenses, presented in the order of most to least optimal for the situations of most families.

1. Grants

Grants are generally awarded via the school’s financial aid office and usually require the family to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, available at

2. Scholarships

High school students should contact their school’s guidance counselor for regional or specialized academic opportunities. The intended college or university’s financial aid office can also help, as can sites like and

3. Direct Subsidized Federal Student Loans

Families who haven’t fully saved for college costs should get direct federal loans as soon as they can, while they can, for as much as they can. The rates are low, generally no credit check is required, and several repayment and eventual forgiveness plans may come in handy down the road. There are annual and lifetime limits on the amount of money that can be borrowed.

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