There Are Ways To Fund College Beyond Credit Cards

The cost of college

Many parents are looking to their credit cards to fund college for their children. This year some states, businesses and colleges are aiming to help people pay for the expense. There are some rules, of course. And of course, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Parents need to do some research on any offer that comes in the mail or via the phone before they accept any funding. Here are six ways to get free money to help defray the cost of college.

State aid

There are nine states in which government agencies and charities are offering grants for college costs. Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, New Jersey, Michigan, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Utah and Maine are all a part of the initiative to help defray school costs. For example, in Maine, legislators began offering $500 to newborns whose parents agreed to open 529 College Savings Accounts. Many of these states offer financial extras to low to middle-income families. Louisiana and New Jersey offer wide varieties of grants and scholarships for their residents. Each parent should check with their student’s high school counselor and the FAFSA website for details on what plans are available to help with college costs.

Parents should be aware that each state has its own list of rules and regulations. Some require parents to fill out detailed forms annually, and others have very strict deadlines. Utah for example has introduced some new grants available to families, but their regulations were so limited that only 19 families ended up qualifying for them.

Employers and credit cards

Two other ways to find funding for college are through employers and with credit cards. In 2008, some employers began giving new parents grants of $700 if the parents opened a 529 savings account prior to the child’s first birthday.

Credit cards are another way to help fund college. Fidelity offers an American Express card that rebates 2% of all purchases and diverts them into a Fidelity 529 account. Also, Upromise just introduced a MasterCard that rebates money to an Upromise 529 or to a Sallie Mae education loan. The card rebates 1% on all purchases, 10% on groceries at certain stores and the user can choose to accept other rebates on gas and restaurant purchases.

Online deals to help with college

There are also many online websites that offer cash back to shoppers who click through their websites to partner websites. Littlegrad, Futuretrust, Upromise and Babymint are all websites that offer these types of cash back deals.

Colleges are also offering matching grants for parents who are saving for college. Sage Scholars, Inc. convinced 230 private colleges to “guarantee Tuition Rewards scholarships” to families who invest or shop at Sage’s website partner companies. Also, over 274 private colleges are part of the prepaid Independent 529 Plan. This is a plan that gives parents a 0.5% discount if they purchase tuition for children at current costs.

Relatives and friends

Finally, relatives and friends can aid in college funding. and both offer tools that request relatives and friends donate to a college fund “in lieu” of birthday, graduation or Christmas gifts. Freshmandfund works with the 529, while Ugift works with Upromise.

Funding college

Whichever way parents choose to pay for college, there are methods of help out there. State aid, employer’s help, credit cards, online tools and relatives and friends are all viable options to look to for additional funding.

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