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Prepárese Financieramente para la Universidad de sus Hijos

Be Financially Prepared Before your Children Attend College

You have probably dreamed of providing your family the greatest opportunity for success, and the sacrifices you've made have been for the good of your children to help them achieve their dreams. The continued education of our children has been the best guarantee of family success across generations. However, there are significant challenges to overcome on the road to the continued education of our children.

The high cost of attending college, the complexity of the United States education system, our legal status, and our lack of awareness of helpful resources, are some of the biggest challenges we face as Latinos.

Despite these challenges, you and your children can achieve this dream. The most important factors are setting a goal, fighting for the goal, and planning. Obviously, the sooner you start planning, the easier it will be for you to achieve your dream.

Keep in mind that university costs have increased more rapidly than national inflation over the last 10 years. This means  that the current average cost for attending any educational institution will continue to increase rapidly - from the current average cost of public universities of $13,000 or the current average of private colleges of more than $30,000, to amounts that are truly staggering.

Because of this you should 1) start saving; 2) instill the will and responsibility within your children so that they will fight for their dreams; and 3) inform yourself about resources available to support your children's education, such as loans and scholarships.

Start saving

Every dollar that you deposit at your credit union will help to cover college costs. Before all else, set a savings goal for each of your children. The calculator provided by the College Board can help you to determine how much you should be saving and for how long. The College Board has helpful Web pages in Spanish about college preparation.

Be sure to put savings in your own name and not that of your children, since this will help your children obtain greater financial aid. Also, consult a financial advisor to learn more about Coverdell Savings Accounts and 529 College Savings Plans, which can help you obtain tax benefits. Make the preparation, research, and savings a family effort.

Motivate your children

Our children will set the goals that we present as options to them. Unfortunately, the lack of educational access that our families may have had may disillusion our young students. Whenever possible motivate your children, exposing them to college graduate leaders and talking with them about the real educational effort that they will need to make in order to have the best chance at continued education and to obtain scholarships. Don't let them feel alone in their efforts. Help them find help and resources, even if it's merely developing a relationship with an advisor that truly knows the steps necessary to enroll at universities.

Inform yourself about resources

Though you may not realize it, there are many resources available for Latino students - immigrant or not.  Start with your credit union, which may have a variety of savings vehicles. Credit unions will probably also have loan products that you may be able to use for your children's studies. Some credit unions may even have Individual Development Accounts. These accounts match your savings dollar for dollar when you save to invest in something like education and if you qualify based on your income.

Aside from these resources available at credit unions, there are organizations focused on the educational development of Latino students, such as ¡Adelante!, Hispanic Scholarship Fund, Aspira, National Council of La Raza, and many other local and national organizations. These organizations seek to inform and support Hispanic students and their families—sometimes even through scholarships and financial awards for students that excel.

Though potentially a difficult and long road, your children's studies are a worthwhile investment. Set your goal as a family, save, and seek available resources for the good of your kids.

Published 5/14/2015

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