Helping Your Child Graduate on Time Can Save You Money
When many families prepare for financing a child’s college education, they base their plan on the expectation that their child can graduate in four years. However, the time to graduation may be longer. This can mean a significantly higher total cost for a college education.
The U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) tracked the progress of first-time students attending a four-year institution full-time who earned a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent in 2007-08. It found that only 44 percent of students had graduated from college within four years of enrollment. And only 78 percent of undergraduates had attained a degree or certificate within six years. Ask yourself:
- Is my child a good student who works hard in school and is serious about an education?
- How clearly defined are my child’s goals?
- Does the college offer advising services for scheduling required classes, so my child can take the ones needed to graduate on time?
Then sit down to make a realistic financial plan. Try to anticipate your costs if you feel your child may need to an extra year or two to complete a degree.
What Can Families Do?
There are many ways you can help your child graduate from college on time, on schedule and on budget. Planning ahead and monitoring your child’s progress is the best way to make sure that college goes smoothly. Here are some areas to concentrate on:
- Prepare your child for college, especially in reading, writing and math, to avoid the need for remedial courses, which often don’t count toward a degree.
Support your child in getting college creditwith the Advanced Placement Program® (AP®) and College-Level Examination Program® (CLEP®).
- Urge your child to register for classes as early as possible so that your child is less likely to be shut out of required courses.
- Review your child’s course load each semester to make sure it includes enough credits to stay on schedule.
- Encourage your child to complete required courses and to explore interests early during college years; changing majors can cause delays later if basic requirements weren’t satisfied.
- Confirm that your child can get transfer credits if taking courses at other institutions.
- Consider a few summer classes if your child falls behind.