How to Talk to Your Parents About Paying for CollegeFebruary 8, 2022
If you’re planning on continuing your education after high school, you may need to consider how to talk to your parents about paying for college. Earning an advanced degree can be expensive, and sometimes colleges expect parents to contribute funds and adjust your financial aid accordingly.
While figuring out how to convince your parents to pay for college can be a challenge, these tips can help you have this difficult conversation so you can maximize the chances of getting the help you need to further your education.
Why It’s Important to Learn How to Talk to Your Parents About Paying for College
Chances are good you’ll have to figure out how to talk to your parents about paying for college due to the costs associated with attending school and the way in which financial aid is set up.
You will need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to become eligible for most types of financial assistance for school. Unless you are an independent student, you’ll need to include your parents’ financial information on this form.
Depending on factors such as income and the number of children in your family, your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is an index number used to determine your eligibility for federal student financial aid. This number assumes that some of the necessary funds for school may come from your parents or from your own assets.
While there are ways around this if your parents are unable to make the expected family contribution — such as taking out private student loans — you can avoid borrowing more than necessary if your parents are willing to provide some financial help.
Please note: Effective 2023, Student Aid Index (SAI) will replace Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Colleges currently use the EFC to decide whether students should be eligible for need-based financial aid. Most EFCs are calculated based on the parents’:
- Taxed and untaxed income
- Government benefits
- Family size and number of children in college
Per the FAFSA Simplification Act, several changes will be implemented to how these numbers are calculated by 2023. The changes are designed to even the playing field for lower-income families, as well as to account for a few common exceptions that the current formula does not consider.
How to Convince Your Parents to Pay for College
If you want to maximize the chances of convincing your parents to pay for college, there are a few key steps that you may want to take before you have a conversation with them about the subject.
Do the Research About College Costs
If you’re planning on asking your parents for money for school, you’ll want to have some idea of the total costs of completing your educational program. This way, you can make a specific request and can discuss the numbers in detail with them to figure out how to make the finances work.
Explore Financial Aid Opportunities First
If you’re trying to figure out how to convince your parents to pay for college, it’s helpful to exhaust opportunities for other sources of aid.
For example, you should make sure you’ve applied for all of the scholarships and grants for which you may be eligible. These are sources of money that usually don’t have to be paid back. You can also look into low-interest loan options, via federal student loans or private student loans.
If your parents see you have explored all possible solutions for covering school costs, they may be more willing to make a financial contribution. And if you maximize your scholarship and grant money, you may not have to ask them for as much to help you cover the shortfall.
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Schedule the Conversation
When thinking about how to talk to your parents about paying for college, it’s generally best not to bring up the topic out of nowhere.
Instead, let your parents know that you want to schedule a time to talk about college funding options. That way, they aren’t blindsided and will have time to assess their own financial situation and prepare for what they want to say.
Outline Your College Timeline
It’s also helpful to have an idea of when you plan to attend school and how long it will take you to complete your degree program. This will allow your parents to develop a timeline for coming up with the money you need if they are willing to help.
Carefully Consider What Kind of Help You Want
As you think about how to convince your parents to pay for college, there are a few different types of assistance for which you could ask.
For example, you could ask for them to pay towards your schooling outright. Or you could ask them for a loan at a low rate that you’d repay after graduation. You could also ask to live at home while you attend school, which would help you to reduce room-and-board costs.
Starting the Conversation
After doing your preliminary research, it’s time to start the conversation with your parents about whether they’ll help you pay for college. Here’s how to do that.
Make a List of Questions to Ask Your Parents
If you’re brainstorming how to convince your parents to pay for college, you should come prepared with a list of questions for them. These questions may include:
- Is any money set aside to help cover my college costs?
- Have you thought about how you could pay for my school?
- Are there any specific schools for which you are or aren’t willing to contribute funding?
- What are your conditions for providing financial help, if any?
- Would you be willing to borrow money to help me fund my education, as there are a number of parent loans (federal and private) available?
These questions can help you guide the conversation.
Be Prepared to Listen and Compromise
Finally, remember that your parents may have some creative ideas or some thoughts of their own about your college funding. So even if they aren’t willing to provide the exact type of assistance you’re asking for, be sure to listen with an open mind.
Getting a Degree Without Parent Contribution
You should also know that getting your degree could be possible even without your parents contributing any money. Both federal and private student loans could help you fund your education.
If you’ve completed the FAFSA, used scholarships and grants, or explored federal loan products, a private student loan from ELFI may be right for you.* We offer no fees, flexible repayment options, and a dedicated Student Loan Advisor to help you on your journey.