College is the most exciting times of your life — a place to grow, learn, meet lifelong friends and jumpstart your career. There’s no question, however, that college is expensive. If you’re a current high school junior or senior in the process of applying to colleges, here’s how to get prepared.

Financial Aid

Financial aid in the form of grants, federal loans, tax credits and deductions can help pay for college. You can fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) to find out if you qualify for financial aid.

According to data from the College Board, undergraduate students received an average of $14,940 in financial aid in 2019-20. However, the cost of going to college keeps rising. The average budget for the 2020-21 school year was estimated at $26,820 for a public four-year in-state college or university and $54,880 for a private nonprofit four-year college. This includes tuition, fees, room and board.

Here are some tips to help you plan for and manage college costs:

  • Talk with your parents. Find out how much they are able to contribute.
  • Meet with school counselors. They may be able to help you search for scholarships and grants. They can also steer you toward schools that offer the best financial aid packages.
  • Consider community college. If you complete required courses at a community college, you may be able to transfer to a four-year school later. Be sure to find out whether your targeted school will accept the credits. You can also take introductory courses at a community college and transfer over the credit to the university you’re attending.
  • Get a job. Many schools offer work-study programs. You could find a job on your own, but be realistic about balancing work while keeping up with your studies.

Save, save, save

A college education is an investment in your future. Save as much as you can, from the money you receive for your birthday, graduation or part-time jobs, in your Dinero savings account at Advancial. Small changes you make now can pay off in greater job satisfaction and higher earnings later.

Source: The College Board