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Prepare an action plan

Nearing college means getting serious about an action plan. Whether you're planning for yourself or a child, you can take steps to map out the road to college.

Sharpen your college planning goals

Take a look at your income and calculate the amount you have to set aside monthly. Then start building a budget and practice solid savings habits. Use the College Planning Calculator to monitor your progress and track your savings goals.

How much do you need to save for college?


Consider financial aid, grants and scholarships

Parents usually pay only 28% of the total college bill from income and savings, and borrow about 9%—the rest comes from other sources. From grants and scholarships to financial aid, there's a range of options to reduce your out-of-pocket costs.

Financial aid

Whether you're applying for merit-based scholarships or need-based assistance, the first step is to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.

Grants and scholarships

Most of these come from the federal government through the Pell Grant program, but colleges, private foundations and companies also award scholarships.

Look for more ways to save

Look at your expenses closely. You may be able to cut back without making major lifestyle changes. Try making different choices and putting extra money aside instead of spending it.

Borrow with care

While it's cheaper to save than borrow, student loans can help close any gaps between your savings and the cost of tuition. If paying cash for college means skimping on your retirement savings or other financial priorities, student loans can help.

Manage college finances with your child

Equip your child with the right resources, so they can be more actively involved in planning for their future and financing college costs.
Looking for investment advice and guidance?
Meet with a Financial Solutions Advisor at more than 2,000 select Bank of America financial centers.
Or call us 24/7 at 866.460.1282

Important disclosures

Merrill, its affiliates, and financial advisors do not provide legal, tax, or accounting advice. You should consult your legal and/or tax advisors before making any financial decisions.