Complicated just got easy with the College Planning Center as your resource

When it comes to planning and paying for college, there is a lot to figure out. With Bank of North Dakota’s (BND) College Planning Center, complicated just got easy. BND’s College Planning Center offers online tools and information to plan for college, pay for college and manage money. Staff members can answer your questions by email or phone.

The College Planning Center website is organized into three main categories: Plan for college, Pay for college and Manage your money.

Plan for college

The College Planning Center offers articles, checklists, timelines and more to help parents, students and counselors plan for college at every stage.

Saving money

When should you start saving for college? TODAY! Flexibility, tax advantages and grant programs are just a few reasons why College SAVE is one of the best options to save for college. College SAVE is North Dakota’s 529 plan, administered by BND. Grant programs such as Children FIRST and the College SAVE Matching Grant can give you a boost in saving for college. College SAVE also offers Ugift, a hassle-free way for family and friends to contribute to the plan.

Choosing and applying for college

Determining which college is right takes time and research. Asking the right questions helps students narrow down which college is a good fit for their needs. Examples of questions a student should be thinking about:

  • What do I want to do?
  • Does the college have the major I’m interested in?
  • Do I prefer a large or small campus?
  • How close to home do I want to be?
  • What are the costs and average student debt?
  • What is the job placement rate?

When the time comes to apply to a college, students need to complete various forms. Each form has a deadline so be aware of deadlines and submit the forms on time. Typical forms to complete:

  • College admission application: Complete October –May, but the sooner, the better!
  • Housing application: Complete as soon as you decide where you will attend school.
  • Financial aid forms: Complete January – April.
  • Campus scholarships: Complete January or February. Check with the college for their deadline.

Pay for college

Good planning, financial aid and scholarships can help make college more affordable. BND’s College Planning Center has information about the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), savings, scholarships, grants and student loans.

FAFSA: The first steps in paying for college are to complete the FAFSA and apply for scholarships and grants. Colleges use the FAFSA to determine the amount of federal and state financial aid a student is eligible to receive. Federal financial aid includes grants, work study and student loans.  Students should also seek out and apply for scholarships from local organizations, state programs and their college. College Planning Center provides articles and links to help students learn more and complete these steps.

Student loans: When savings, scholarships and grants are not enough to pay for college, students can take out a loan to bridge the gap. Students should take out Federal Direct Loans first. Federal Direct Loans may be subsidized or unsubsidized, depending on the student’s financial need which is determined by the FAFSA. With a subsidized loan, the federal government helps pay the interest that accrues on the loan while a student is in school, grace or deferment. The student is responsible for paying the interest on unsubsidized loans. When a student borrows an unsubsidized loan, it’s a smart move to make payments toward the interest balance while in college.

North Dakota’s state-sponsored student loan: When funding needs are greater than can be covered with Federal Direct Loans, scholarships, grants and savings, students may take out a private or alternative student loan. Bank of North Dakota’s DEAL Student Loan is a great option with interest rates that are generally lower than other options available to students. When a student borrows a DEAL loan, it’s a smart move to make payments toward the interest balance while in college.

Manage your money

The College Planning Center has guides and tools to help your child track expenses and use money responsibly.

Budgeting: Getting organized and creating a budget is important to stay on track when building credit. For many young people, college is the first time they have access to larger amounts of funds so it is easy for them to get in trouble.

Credit: Understanding credit cards and credit scores are important to everyone’s financial health. The College Planning Center features different articles about the dos and don’ts of credit cards, how to get and keep a good credit score and more.

There are times when people don’t know what questions to ask because they don’t have enough information to form the questions. The College Planning Center helps provide the information needed to form those questions. That’s how complicated just got easy with Bank of North Dakota’s College Planning Center.

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