By Professor Laura Dorsey
Malcom X said, “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today”. Education is the foundation of progress in most societies. If you do not think so, the recent news regarding the college admissions bribery scandal will jolt you back into reality. Parents of college applicants are accused of paying more than $25 million to fraudulently inflate students test scores and to bribe college officials. If Nelson Mandela is correct (and we have no reason to doubt him) and education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world, where does that leave most parents with children. What happens when parents do not have millions of dollars to shell out to ensure that their child can get into the most prestigious and elite colleges and universities?
I am glad that you asked because this article will answer that question and many more regarding financing higher education for your children. As parents, there are things that you can do to get you and your student on the road to The Education Money Tree:
• Start Early – When your child is in elementary school help your child develop an interest in reading. As much as possible be involved in your child’s homework and progress by diligently looking at report cards and progress reports. Attend parent teacher conferences. Learn about tax advantages of state-offered college savings plans and other tax advantages
• Junior High & Middle School – Help your child create good study habits such as studying on a schedule at the same time each day. Stay connected with the child’s teachers and counselors so they can keep you aware of your child’s progress. Keep an eye on grades and if tutoring is necessary check the school for resources. Browse Parent Power at https://www2.ed.gov/parents/academic/help/parentpower/booklet.pdf for ideas to help support your child as he or she transitions into high school.
• High School – Continue to discuss higher education with your student. Monitor and insist on good study habits. Encourage your child to take Advanced Placement courses.
• 9th Grade – Encourage your student to use the career search at https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/prepare-for- college/students/career-search to search career options. Consider participating in academic enrichment programs, summer workshops and camps with specialty focuses.
• 10th Grade – Meet with counselors or mentors to discuss colleges and their admission requirements. Have your student work, volunteer or take a summer course. Research majors and colleges that might be a good match with the results of the career search by using https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/. Plan on attending your child’s school’s college night. Learn about standardized tests at https://www.collegeboard.org/ or http://www.act.org/ and how or why to take them early.
• 11th grade – Attend college fairs with your student. Have your student take the PSAT/NMSQT related to the National Merit Scholarship Program. Register and take exams for college admission.
• 12th Grade – Have your student create a username and password and complete the FASFA. Have them register and take the SAT or ACT as soon as possible so that they have the opportunity to apply for early college admissions
• Go to www.irs.gov and read IRS Publication 970 to benefit from federal in- come tax credits Education is the key to the future. Educated people have higher wages and lower unemployment rates. So how do we level the playing field so that minority and low-income students have the same advantages as others. The answer is The Education Money Tree. The Federal Government has over $2.9 billion (yes that is with a ‘b’) in free grant money, that does not have to be paid back, that goes unused every year. That is free money that is just hanging out there on the money tree. And that is not all that is on the money tree, there are millions of dollars in scholarships. Scholarships also do not need to be repaid. There are thousands of them, offered by schools, employers, individuals, private companies, nonprofits, communities, religious groups, and professional and social organizations. Like your child, you must do your homework to find The Education Money Tree. Information provided by Laura Dorsey, S E Regional Vice President of the Infinite Scholars Program and the Office of the U.S. Department of Education. For more info visit infinitescholar.org.