Mapping Your Future logo Search

Success in College Guide: Step 4 of 9

En Español

Prepare financially for college


It's never too late to start saving for college, but the earlier you start, the better. You'll thank yourself for it later, when every dollar you save now reduces your student loan debt after graduation. You probably can set aside a specific amount every pay period to build a college fund- but it takes some good planning and self control.

The cost of college

College expenses vary depending on the type of college (public or private, in-state or out-of-state), the number of courses, your major, and personal lifestyle. Costs can include:

Other expenses to consider:

Use the budget calculator to help determine your income and expenses.

Financial aid

Yes, college can be expensive, but costs vary and financial aid can make even an expensive college affordable. There are three main types of financial assistance available to qualified students: Grants and scholarships, loans, and work-study. Financial aid can come from federal, state, local, and private sources. Most "free" aid (grants or scholarships) are distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis; so apply early.

Remember: During your senior year of high school and every year during college, complete all necessary financial aid forms, including the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Complete the FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1 and prior to the start of each college academic year.

Next step