Sending a grandchild to college is a very exciting and proud moment. Whether they’re a first generation college student or are following in your footsteps, going off to college is a big step into adulthood for kids and requires a lot of adjustment. Here are some ways you can help your grandchild make the transition from high school to college a little easier:
Avoid the Middleman
If you decide to help pay for some of your grandchild’s tuition, the most popular approach would be to pay it right to their school. Avoiding the middle man saves you both money since there’s no interest or charges on personal checks or cash. You’ll also know your money is being put to use the way you intended. Schools make it easier nowadays by giving you the option to pay tuition online. This also allows you to easily spread out the payments at your convenience as well.
One of the best ways to show your grandchildren that you’re thinking of them is by sending care packages. Body wash, shampoo, snack foods, school supplies, and clothing are easy items to include, and are items they will need throughout the school year. Care packages can help them save them money and a trip to the store.
There are companies such as CarePackages.com and Package Penguin that take the guess out of deciding what to include in the package. They also make it easy to customize the boxes and give you the option to include personal notes.
Snail mail isn’t as popular as it used to be, but in a world where a text message can be sent in seconds, a handwritten note is appreciated so much more. Handwritten letters sent in the mail show that you took the time out of your day to sit down, write, package, and send out a letter. The amount of effort and time that goes into writing a personal letter is much greater than sending an email or text message and shows that you care about them. There’s a lot of mass advertisements, bills, and junk coming into our mailboxes daily, so when there’s a personal, handwritten letter in there, it gives a moment of pause and appreciation.
Pay Off Loans After Graduation
If you’re considering helping out your grandchild by assisting them in paying off their student loans, it may be best to wait until after they’ve graduated. Waiting until after they’ve finished school can help to avoid messing with their financial aid package. This is also another way to help them out instead of co-signing their loans. However, if your grandkid does end up taking out a loan based off of your promise to repay it, make sure that it’s stated in your will in the unfortunate event that you’re not there to pay.
Save Your Quarters
Most college dorms provide laundry machines in the buildings, but they’re not typically free. The washing machines and dryers usually take quarters, so that means your student has to scour the couch cushions for change to wash their clothes. To make it a little easier on them and to ensure they’re in clean clothes, start saving your change in a piggy bank for them to use on laundry day. If their school offers free laundry service, you could also save the quarters for metered parking.
Offer to Pay a Different Expense
Other than tuition, apartments and books are among the biggest expenses students face in college. Offering to pay for one of these expenses alone could help them tremendously and lift some weight off their shoulders. Take some time to discuss with them what expense they could use the most help with and determine if it’s something you are able to take on.
Hire a Financial Planner
Since college students usually have a lot of expenses in addition to their tuition, it’s important for them to understand the importance of being financially smart. Meeting with a financial planner will not only help them learn about budgeting, but will give them expert tips and advice on how to make their money last longer. They can also assist with loan, credit card, and debt questions and issues as well to make sure your grandchild is on the right track to financial success. You don’t have to pay for one. Perhaps you know someone who can do it for free, or find free resources (like a community or online class) for your grandchild to investigate in their area.
Teach Them About Budgeting
One of the biggest issues college students face is having to survive on a low budget. If you want to help your grandchild learn how to properly manage their finances and you’re unable to use a financial planner, then share your own experience and tips with them. Next time they visit, sit down with them to help build a budget to work with. In addition to your advice, there’s also thousands of internet resources for personal finance available for you to utilize when helping them build their budget.
Give Gift Cards
Gift cards are a great way to provide money to your grandchild for a specific need. If they’re getting ready to start applying for internships or a job and they need some professional clothing, a gift card may help them build their professional wardrobe. The biggest advantage to giving gift cards if that you know that the money will be spent on what you intended.
If your grandchild’s college is far away from where they’ve grown up, they probably rarely get visitors from home. Going for a visit to their college campus gives you a chance to get to know how they’re really doing and it puts visuals to the stories you might’ve heard them tell. Not only will you get to spend time together, but you’ll be able to see much more of their college experience.
There are plenty of ways to help your college-bound grandchild, both emotionally and financially. What is most important to remember is to make sure you, your financial goals, and your needs are taken care of first before extending a helping hand. Always know that any act of kindness, encouragement, and support is more meaningful and better appreciated than any monetary value. You don’t need to spend money to help. If you do decide to offer financial support, we recommend speaking with your financial advisor before doing so.