Important Tips When Creating a Plan to Pay for College

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Community Choice Credit Union and GreenPath, Inc. explore important financial tips college-bound students should consider when creating a plan to pay for college.

Students going to college

Students should put together a financial plan before leaving for college.

Goals are important because they reflect your values and they provide you with a direction

When it comes to making financial decisions for continuing education, Catherine Wall of Green Path, Inc., Community Choice Credit Union’s trusted Partner Relations Specialist, stresses that college-bound students establish concrete plans.

In addition to providing student loan workshops counseling throughout southeast Michigan, Catherine recently helped her son and daughter prepare for college and learned from the experiences they faced. She offers the following financial tips for college-bound students and their parents.

1. Set goals. Students achieve financial stability in college when they set goals that are specific, measurable, reasonable and realistic. Before choosing a major, check if credits earned in high school can transfer to that program. Decide if it’s appropriate to go away to college for four years as opposed to living at home and transferring. Research the cost of obtaining a degree in a particular field and what the job market and pay will be upon graduation.

“If an individual doesn’t know what they want to do after college, how do they know what income they’ll be making and if they can pay back their loans? It’s all about making a plan,” Catherine says. “Goals are important because they reflect your values and they provide you with a direction to go in. Build off that, and make your plan as accurate as possible.”

2. Create a budget. For some students, college might be the first time in their lives that they’ve needed to monitor cash flow. First, map out all income, including allowance, odd jobs, grants, gifts, scholarships and loans. Then, try to predict all expenses such as tuition, books, food, housing, clothing, personal care, and transportation. Consider using free resources such as the planning calculators offered by Community Choice Credit Union.

“Preparing for lifelong financial success before starting college is overwhelming for parents and students,” Catherine says. “Often, students end up graduating with mortgage-sized debts. In order to avoid this, a budget is critical, and so is sticking to it.”

3. Know your options. In addition to grants and loans, other options for paying for college include campus-based aid programs, 529 plans, pre-paid tuition plans, Coverdell Education Savings Accounts, and Roth IRAs.

“There are many options to pay for college,” Catherine says. “Do your research and seek help if necessary.”

Assessing all options and forming a plan will lead students down the path to financial success.

“Currently 91 percent of college students have credit cards, and three out of five students max them out in their freshman year,” Catherine says. “Too often, students are set up for failure because they do not make disciplined financial choices. A well-executed plan will make all the difference.”

About Community Choice Credit Union: Established in 1935, Community Choice Credit Union offers a wide variety of financial products and services for both consumers and businesses. Any individual who lives, works, or worships in the following counties is eligible to become a member of Community Choice Credit Union: Genesee, Lapeer, Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, St. Clair, Washtenaw or Wayne County, Michigan. Since 2008, Community Choice has invested more than $748,742 and 10,727 volunteer hours into its charitable Give Big efforts throughout Michigan. For more information, visit

About GreenPath Debt Solutions: GreenPath Debt Solutions is a nationwide, non-profit financial organization that assists consumers with credit card debt, housing debt, student loan debt, and bankruptcy concerns. Our customized services and attainable solutions have been helping people achieve their financial goals since 1961. Headquartered in Farmington Hills, Michigan, GreenPath operates more than 50 full-time branch offices in 11 states. They also deliver licensed services throughout the United States over the Internet and telephone. GreenPath is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies (AICCCA) and is accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA). For more information, visit us at

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Jeffrey DiGiannantonio

Catherine Wall
since: 06/2010
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