By Agustin “Tino” Diaz on February 22, 2016 @TinoJrDiaz

Not sure when to start thinking about paying for college? Not to mention how to get started!?

Below are some tips on how you can be proactive about preparing for college expenses. Share them with your children so they can be part of saving for their college education.

  • Open a Utah Educational Savings Plan (UESP)
    • Save for college with the Utah Educational Savings Plan, which can help pay for qualified higher education expenses. Grandparents and other relatives can even contribute money to their account.
  • Look locally. College is much more affordable if your child attends a college in Utah. In-state tuition is generally 50% less than out-of-state tuition. Compare costs here.
  • Encourage your child to do well in school. Start their academics strong so they stand better chances of earning academic merit scholarships.
  • Students should become INVOLVED. Encourage your kids to become involved in school organizations, activities and in their community such as volunteering and in leadership roles. These types of activities can help boost scholarship and college admission applications.
  • Involve the entire family in saving for college. Brainstorm savings strategies and hold savings contests!
  • Look into employee tuition assistance or sponsorship. Some companies sponsor students’ higher education and/or give tuition assistance. Check and see if you or your spouses’ work offers this.
  • Check with college alumni associations. Many alumni associations offer scholarships. Check with institutions your child is interested in or with the college you attended to see if they offer scholarships that can be handed down to your children from your attendance and graduation.
  • Encourage your child to get a part time job to help save for college. Every little bit counts.
  • Browse for more college preparation resources at StepUpUtah.com:
    1. Monte and the World of Possibilities Book (for elementary school kids)
    2. Utah Scholars Initiative
    3. Regents’ Scholarship
    4. Grade-by-grade checklist
    5. FAFSA & FAFSA4Caster
    6. College preparation blogs
    7. The StepUp College Guide

Agustin “Tino” Diaz is a Community Outreach Officer with the Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority (UHEAA). Learn more about Tino and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.