College debt needs to be addressed well before college

Friday, May 29, 2015

A majority of Iowa's recent college graduates leave college in debt, many of them with substantial debt.

According to the Institute for College Access and Success, Iowa's graduates have the country's ninth-highest average student debt at $29,370 and ninth-highest percentage of graduates with debt at 69 percent.

Reducing the post-college burden of debt requires planning well before a child goes to college.

Parents can participate in the College Savings Iowa 529 Plan, a tax-advantaged program. Kids should be encouraged, or even required, to contribute a portion of their own earnings toward a college fund.

Parents and students should research possible scholarship and aid opportunities. School counselors can assist with this effort.

Minimizing the college expense itself might be possible through dual credit courses in high school and, even more significantly, by earning credits toward a Bachelor's Degree at a community college before finishing at a more expensive college.

Planning for financing college should start early, and be ongoing through the college years.