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Planning Ahead and Paying for College

A shot of an Asian student studying on campus

College is expensive anywhere you go. Sure, attending an in-state school will save money, but the big issue is paying tuition, buying books, and making rent. Whether you are sending your child or yourself off to school, we’ve put together a few ways to save toward those expenses as well as pay for that education with grants and student loans.

Saving Toward College
There are plenty of ways to save for school, but three of the best options offer tax incentives for qualified educational expenses. The financial advisor at St. Helens Community Credit Union, available through CUSO Financial Services, L.P. (CFS), our broker dealer can help you decide which one is right for you, including:

  • Custodial Accounts. Taxes on the gains are often minimal because they are set to the child’s income level. Plus, the money can be used to fund college, start a business, put a down payment on a home, or take a backpacking trip through Europe.
  • Coverdell Education Savings Accounts (ESAs). These accounts are tax deferred, and withdrawals are not subject to tax if used for qualified education expenses (including elementary and high school).
  • Oregon 529 Plans. These are ideal for families looking for no income limits and an exemption from federal, state and local taxes. Funds can be used for room and board, fees, supplies and equipment.

Paying for College              
One of the first places you should always start when looking for financial help with college is with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You can find the application here. Depending on your income and need, you could be offered one of the following types of federal assistance.

  • Direct Student Loans. These offer low interest rates on direct loans from the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Direct Subsidized Loans. Qualify and the government will pay your interest while you or the student are enrolled in school at least half time.
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans. If you don’t qualify for subsidized loans, you can choose an unsubsidized loan. You can either make interest payments while in school or simply allow the interest to be added to the balance of your overall loan.
  • Federal Perkins Loans. These loans, which are offered through a school’s financial aid office, offer a low, fixed rate and longer grace period after graduation.
  • Federal PLUS Loans. The Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) is designed for parents to help kids pay for college as long as certain eligibility requirements are met. Graduate and professional students may also apply for PLUS loans.

Need help planning ahead for your child’s college years? Our team is here to help in person or over the phone. Stop by any branch, or call our CFS investment team at 503.366.6341. Don’t forget, members of St. Helens Community are encouraged to apply for our annual $3,000 video scholarship. You can learn more about this great opportunity here.

Non-deposit investment products and services are offered through CUSO Financial Services, L.P. (“CFS”), a registered broker-dealer (Member FINRA/SIPC) and SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Products offered through CFS: are not NCUA/NCUSIF or otherwise federally insured, are not guarantees or obligations of the credit union, and may involve investment risk including possible loss of principal. Investment Representatives are registered through CFS. The credit union has contracted with CFS to make non-deposit investment products and services available to credit union members.