Navy magazine is distributed on Capitol Hill,the Pentagon and naval bases around the world. It provides information that impacts Sailors, their families and the Navy. Navy is published quarterly by the Association of the United States Navy (AUSN).

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COLLEGE TUITION COSTS 34 Navy | Fall/Winter 2017 T he cost of college education has become a national crisis. Estimates put the amount of student loans outstanding at $1.3 trillion. is leaves students with high debt loads many years aer graduation and parents that have to delay retirement due to college loan payments. e key to ensuring that fami- lies don't fall into this trap is to keep an open line of communication between the parent and student. e focus should be on finding the best FIT college. Fit means finding the college that will challenge the student academically, while allowing them to grow as a young adult, without them taking on unrealistic financial obligations. Money magazine estimates that 2016 college graduates had an average of $35,000 in debt. at's a big number to work into a new graduate's budget. Fit should also include finding a college that parents and the student agree on based on possible majors and career paths, as well as a college that will not break the proverbial family bank. Parents can be hesitant to discuss financials with their children but it is imperative that everyone is on the same page when it comes to paying for a college education. In many instances parents are not involved in the college selection process. e student may get accepted into an expensive institution that doesn't offer scholarships, only to find out that their parents can't afford the cost. Many families will claim that taking on debt is their only option. But, loans should be the last resort. So how should you pay for college? First, save, save, save – as early as possible. State tax-advantaged saving plans – 529s – are designed to encourage savings for college costs. Growth is tax deferred and withdrawals for qualified education expenses are tax-free. Next, focus on colleges with total costs that fit the family's budget using each college's Net Price Calculator. Research colleges that offer the most money in the form of scholarships or grants; the type of financial aid that doesn't have to be paid back. Most scholar- ship money comes directly from the college. Outside scholarships are another source of funding; in 2017, AUSN awarded $15,700 in scholarships. Military academies and ROTC programs provide outstanding educational benefits but they are not for everyone — don't forget fit. e Post-9/11 GI Bill is a great education benefit for those who served on active duty. A key component is that the benefit can be transferred to dependents. e Yellow Ribbon Program is available to Veterans and dependents with 100% Post-9/11 eligibility. It makes additional funds available without an additional charge to your GI Bill entitlement. If necessary, loans can fill the gap between savings, scholarships, grants and the cost of attendance. e U.S. government provides low interest student loans through Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans. Parents can take out Direct PLUS Loans for up to the cost of attendance minus financial aid. Private loans from banks or credit unions are another option. ere are over 4,000 colleges in the United States. Many of these schools will provide students with a great education and a lifetime of memories at a reason- able cost. Enjoy the journey. CAPT (Ret.) Scott Gibney is a graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, AUSN member, and a 30-year U.S. Navy Veteran. He and his wife, Susan, own a college consulting company focused on advising students and their families on selecting and paying for college. He can be reached out Many Options to Reduce Your Bills By CAPT (Ret.) Scott Gibney ISTOCKPHOTO

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