This time of year is often important for many families. Your young one may be graduating from high school, trade school or college. These are milestones and memories that last a lifetime. But it’s important to remember that they are only stepping stones along the journey of life. Without a plan for what’s next, your loved ones could find themselves without direction. Here are five things to consider when graduation season hits:
- Gifts and Celebrations
If you plan to spend a significant sum of money toward gifts, celebrations, or vacation trips to mark the occasion, be sure to budget for it. Spending money can be fun in the short term but can cause significant headaches if it cuts into your ability to pay for other needs later. Using a BancorpSouth credit card can give you some spending flexibility to spread the cost out over a longer period of time if you need it.
- College ROI
If your child graduated high school and is looking to enter college or trade school, it’s important to think of higher education as an investment. How do you know which colleges will give you a good return on investment? The U.S. Department of Education has a tool to help. The College Scorecard tool breaks down average salary after graduation, graduation rates and more. You can search by college or by field of study.
- Community College
One way to get a better ROI on higher education is to consider community colleges. In 2020-21, the average published tuition and fees for a full-time student at public two-year institutions nationally was $3,770, compared with $10,560 at public four-year colleges, according to a Columbia University study. Additionally, 90% of Americans live within commuting distance of a community college. By choosing a community college route, there are additional savings to be had on room and board. If you do choose the community college route, do your homework and make sure any classes you take will transfer and articulate into your baccalaureate program. If they don’t, you could find yourself spending time and money repeating foundational courses at higher tuition rates. Look for articulation agreements between institutions to help you avoid repeat work.
- Reducing Student Debt with Forgiveness Programs
Student debt affects numerous Americans. The Federal Reserve estimates that as of 2020, Americans owed more than $1.7 trillion in student loans. Depending on what higher education program you’re interested in, there are multiples to have your tuition expenses covered. There are programs for Teacher Loan Forgiveness, Public Service Loan Forgiveness, Income-Driven Repayment Plans, and tuition benefits for serving in the military or in Americorps. To learn more about these and other programs, visit studentaid.gov/articles/student-loan-forgiveness.
- Retirement Planning
If you’re a young graduate just out of school and entering the workforce, you might think it’s too early to start planning retirement. The truth is, it’s never too early to start putting away money for retirement. In fact, the earlier you start doing it, the more earning potential your investments have through compounding interest. If you plan on having a long career arc, why not let time be on your side and do some of the earning for you? There may be income tax advantages as well.