Summer Steps For Families With College Freshmen
It’s the summer between being a high school senior and heading off for your collegiate adventure. Even though your student may want some down time, this summer is the time to prepare for their college freshman year. Ohio’s 529 Plan, CollegeAdvantage, wants to help make this transition as smoothly as possible for your entire family so here are some steps to take this summer for kick off their freshman year.
The first job is yours as the parent and the Ohio 529 account owner. First, make sure you have your Personal Identification Number (PIN) set up for two-factor authentication and that all your Ohio 529 account information is up-to-date. This way, when the first bill from your child’s chosen higher education institution comes in, you can pay it on time.
If you still need to set up two-factor authentication, log in as normal to your Ohio 529 Plan account with your user name and password from a secure device. Your phone number must be current in your online account profile. That number is necessary to set up two-factor authentication, as you will receive either an automated outbound call or a SMS text to receive your PIN. As long as your phone number is current, you will either be able to receive a SMS text or an automated outbound call. Please be sure you phone service does not block system generated phone calls or texts.
If your phone number is not up to date, please call the Customer Service Department for help to set up a PIN. The team is available from 8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. ET Monday-Friday at 1-800-AFFORD-IT (1-800-233-6734).
Once you have the PIN, you will need to log in again within five minutes. Once the PIN is entered, mark the device as trusted and the authentication process is complete.
Next, verify that your home address and bank account information are correct on your account. If it’s not, update that information now. For security reasons, this information must be on file at Ohio’s 529 Plan for 15 calendar days before a withdrawal can be processed. To update your records online, select your beneficiary’s account. Then look on the left side of the screen, choose “View Profile and Document.” If you need to change your address, select “Profile” to edit your address. If you need to change bank accounts, select “Bank Information” to make the updates.
After updating all your information, you will be ready to make a 529 withdrawal once you receive the higher education bills.
If your financial situation has changed, you can appeal your financial aid offer from the school before accepting it. Many assets, like income, or your employment status, which are included in the calculations on Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), may have changed in the past year. If your income has decreased during the COVID pandemic, connect with the school’s financial aid office to see if they can change their offer to better reflect your current income circumstances.
Remember, you and your child should always fill in FAFSA, the application used for federal financial aid to attend accredited four-year colleges and universities, two-year community colleges, vocational schools, U.S. Labor Department approved apprenticeship programs, and graduate schools. You will have to do this every year that your child is pursuing their higher education. The yearly FAFSA start date is October 1 and it’s best to turn in your form as early as possible while the pool of available aid is at its largest.
Federal student aid is available in different forms. Need-based federal financial aid typically is offered in as grants, scholarships, subsidized loans, or work-study. Before you accept any aid, make sure you understand the financial commitments that come with each of them. A Pell Grant does not have to be repaid. Federally subsidized student loans and parental loans must be repaid with interest.
Other organizations—like states, universities, colleges, and other organizations—use the FAFSA to determine what institutional grants or loans to offer students interested in attending a school.
You’re getting ready to start a new chapter in your life – how exciting! But you can’t just coast into your new college life. There are steps to take this summer for a great start to your higher education.
First, keep searching for scholarships that have later deadlines this summer. Any extra income you can bring in through the scholarships will extend your 529 college savings even further. And scholarships are free money so you won’t have to repay them.
Then it’s time to review what the school needs you to complete before you start studying there. Be prompt in your replies to any school communications and quickly supply the information or forms that are required for your attendance. This can include the school’s computer requirements. If you need to buy some new computer equipment, it is a qualified higher education expense and can be paid with a tax-free withdrawal from your Ohio 529 college savings account. Other costs that can be covered with a 529 withdrawal is tuition, room & board, books and supplies for courses, mandatory fees, and more.
You will also need to visit your doctor as the school will require your vaccination history and the results of a recent physical exam. Check with your school for their COVID vaccination requirements and then take the necessary steps to meet them.
As you are entering your first year away from home, take advantage of all the school’s orientation activities, even if they are held online. It’s a good chance to meet people in the same graduating class as you and start to build friendships. You can also ask the questions that you just thought of while entering your first year of college, like the school’s safety resources or where to find academic help if needed. These fun activities can also lead to volunteer opportunities as well as links to student organizations in which you might like to participate based on your social, physical, academic, or career interests.
If you’re living on campus, reach out to your future roommates this summer. You can coordinate who will bring some of the extra items that will help ease the transition from your home life. Also, by connecting with them before the new school year, you’ll have another source of support as you face your freshman year together.
You’ve probably set up what your class schedule for the first semester of your freshman year. Make sure you know in what format those classes will be held – whether in-person or online. Also, verify if there are any class pre-requisites, like a summer reading list to finish before a class starts or if there are any placement tests you need to take. If you have some questions about a course, reach out to the instructor this summer to make sure you understand everything that will be required of you.
It’s an exciting time for your family. And there are steps for both parents and students to take this summer for a great start to a higher education. And Ohio’s 529 Plan is here to help you cover those new college costs.
Ohio’s tax-free 529 Plan can be used nationwide for whatever comes after high school, including federally accredited apprenticeships, trade and specialty schools, community colleges, certificate programs, four-year universities and colleges, graduate school, law school, and medical school.
Visit Ohio’s 529 Plan online to start saving today for your child’s future education. An investment in a 529 plan is an investment in your child where every dollar saved today is a dollar that doesn’t have to be borrowed later. A 529 account can be used for whatever comes after high school. Learn, plan and start with Ohio’s 529 Plan today at CollegeAdvantage.com.
Posted on July 22, 2021