Taking these 10 steps can pave a path to college for your children

BY GREGG GARN Published: November 28, 2010
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It's a few months into the school year, and people are already asking about your teenager's plans for college. Unless your teenager is a high school senior, college may seem like a long time away, but just like childhood, the time will pass more quickly than he or she thinks. Here are 10 steps you can take now to help your teenager go to college.

1. Make sure your student is taking the right classes. According to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, Oklahoma student schedules should contain at least four college-preparatory classes per year. Some schools require extra units, and some colleges encourage extra units. Check with the high school counselor to make sure your student is on track. A list of courses to take can be found at OKcollegestart.org under Plan for College.

2. Research college entrance requirements with your teen so you can help guide and plan course schedules. Remember, it is much easier to plan ahead than to go back and take needed courses. Check out OKcollegestart.org under the Plan for College tab to find entrance requirements for all Oklahoma colleges.

3. Compare college costs, as they can vary widely according to the choices you make. Factors such as private versus public college and two-year versus four-year college play a part in the total cost. Don't let sticker shock deter you. Remember, college is an investment in your child and his or her future. More information can be found at OKcollegestart.org under Paying for College.

4. Start exploring financial aid now. College costs can be reduced through scholarships, grants and other financial aid. Information can be obtained through the counselor's office. The Federal Student Aid website, FAFSA4caster (www.fafsa4caster.ed.gov), can provide an early estimate of your child's eligibility for federal student aid and other sources of aid.

5. Have your teen take classes eligible for college credit during high school years. Advanced Placement and technical-preparation courses offer students who prepare early and take more difficult courses the chance to gain college credit and save on tuition. Ask your high school counselor if these courses are available in your school.

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