A Better Way To An "A" -- 4 Ways Ohio Families Can Reduce Dependence On Student Loans

Posted on: 25 August 2016

Ohioans looking for ways to reduce their dependence on student loans for sending their kids to college may feel like it's an uphill battle. But if both you and your child think outside the box, there may be a few new ways that work for your family. Here are four ideas to get you started.

College Credit Plus. Like several other states, Ohio has initiated a program to help high school students earn college credits before they even graduate. Ohio's College Credit Plus plan is free for those attending a public school in the state. Private school students may pay a fee, so be sure to do the math to determine how that fee compares with earning the same credit at a university. Talk with your high school counselor to see what local universities or colleges offer -- including online courses -- that can help your child get a free leg up on their diploma. 

Employer Benefits. Many employers these days are offering employee benefits that include paying tuition for employees and their dependents. Check with your employer to see if this program exists or suggest that it be considered as a new benefit. Although it may be a little more extreme, consider whether one spouse could switch in advance to an employer that offers this benefit -- such as a larger company, state agency or educational institution. 

Community College. Many community colleges work with nearby universities to offer class credits that transfer to the four-year university programs. These transfer programs can save a huge amount of money from the cost of a typical Bachelor's degree, and can give the student an easier transition to the college environment. If your child wants to attend Ohio State University, for example, then Columbus State Community College offers a Preferred Pathway program specifically designed to help you transfer as seamlessly as possible. 

Alternative Financing. Student loans can be very limiting and hard to get rid of, so you may want to consider other options for getting loans or financing expenses. Peer-to-peer lending companies today sometimes specialize in student loans, so if you have good credit, these unsecured loans may be a good alternative. Home equity loans usually come with a very low interest rate and the longest payoff period, although there is some risk in collateralizing your home. And, while it's not generally a good idea to pay for college by using a credit card, if you have access to 0% special offers, you could use them to pay for things like books or community college tuition each semester. Just be sure to pay off all the charges before the rate resets.

Planning for how you can reduce the costs of college is just as important to many Ohio families as planning for what your child will learn. And with some advance preparation and flexibility on the parts of both parents and kids, you can find a way that's just right for your household. For more information, contact Chatfield College or a similar institution.