Your child’s college education is one of the most expensive purchases you’ll make in your lifetime. According to College Board, public four-year institutions cost an average of $7,605 a year in tuition and fees for in-state students. Private four-year colleges cost an average of $27,293 a year in tuition and fees.

Your child’s college education is one of the most expensive purchases you’ll make in your lifetime. According to College Board, public four-year institutions cost an average of $7,605 a year in tuition and fees for in-state students. Private four-year colleges cost an average of $27,293 a year in tuition and fees.


For many parents, the cost of college is too overwhelming to pay for through savings. This is where student loans and scholarships can help out. In fact, according to College Board, more than $154 billion in financial aid was distributed to students last year. That’s an average of $11,500 per student, more than half of which was scholarship money.


Here are some great ways to help you pay for college:


1. Federal aid: Use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to apply for federal loans. Federal student loans generally have low interest rates and flexible repayment options. They also usually don’t have to be paid back until a student is no longer enrolled in college. Loan limits range from $5,500 to $12,500 a year. There are various federal, state and college deadlines in the months before your child attends school. You can find out more at www.fafsa.gov.


2. Private student loans: If you need more aid than you receive from federal aid, you can get private loans through many financial institutions. Sometimes the private loan process is also less time-consuming than the federal aid process. However, these loans usually have higher interest rates, have variable rates depending on your credit history and usually require repayment to begin immediately.


3. Scholarships: Many schools give out grants or scholarships that do not need to be repaid. Schools generally use the FAFSA to determine aid eligibility. There are also many private scholarships you can apply for, and many search engines on the Web can help you locate funds.


4. Other options: Open a 529 plan as early as possible, which lets you save money for college with special tax advantages. Explore pre-paid tuition plans, which are state plans that let you lock in current tuition rates for in-state schools. Also consider federal work-study programs, community service programs or military service programs that will help pay tuition.