The Real Deal: Ways to cut extra college costs
Your child may be off to college soon, and along with tuition comes all of the extras.
News 12's consumer reporter gives us The Real Deal on what's needed, what's a waste, and how to cut those costs.
Heather Rabinowitz, a mom with two children in college, and a financial professional says it takes time and planning to figure out how to shave money off the cost of college.
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Health insurance can run you thousands. You will be billed for the school's policy unless you act fast.
"It does take work. It does take time. You do have to make phone calls most often. My understanding is that if you do have a health plan, it probably is sufficient but again, you need to make sure that you complete the waiver in your request to opt out of the plan. Otherwise you're automatically enrolled," says Rabinowitz.
Don't go crazy on meal plans. Buying the most expensive meal plan can be a waste. Rabinowitz is recommending that her son uses a plan that has meal points, instead of money that can expire at the end of the semester.
The biggest bill is tuition and housing. Saving with a 529 plan is the best tax free way to put away money for college.
"You invest money, and that grows on a tax deferred basis. Then when you withdraw the money, as long as you use it for educational purposes, which it is earmarked for, that also is tax free," says Rabinowitz.
You can even ask friends and relatives to contribute to the 529 fund in lieu of birthday or graduation gifts. And if your child doesn't decide to go to college, you can pass that money onto a different family member.
MORE: Getting ready to apply to college this year? This is what you need to know about student loans.
Have your child meet with their advisor to see how they could graduate early - one semester will save you thousands of dollars.
They can also find a job to pay for their added entertainment.
Don't take a car to school - which will run you money for insurance, gas and parking.
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