COLUMBIA, Mo. – Many students have the desire to go to college, but not the funds to pay for it. Fortunately, there are options available to help students afford higher education.

Students can take advantage of public and private scholarships and grants, as well as student loans, including direct loans from the U.S. Department of Education and private student loans. With more students—and their parents—worried about entering today’s uncertain job market while shouldering large debts, it’s a good idea to explore different ways to save money before and during college.

Take advantage of the time spent in high school to get some preliminary classes out of the way, suggests Ryan Law, director of the University of Missouri Office for Financial Success.

“Encourage your kids to take concurrent-enrollment classes or Advanced Placement tests and they might start college midway through their freshman year,” Law said.

Community college is also a lower-cost option. Students can get all their groundwork classes completed at much lower tuition. Community college is also a good idea for students who haven’t chosen a major.

“Not unlike a number of people, I took general education classes and changed my major a couple of times,” Law said. “A student can take advantage of the lower tuition rates at a community college to decide what they want to major in and then transfer to a four-year institution to finish their degree.”

Families with very young children can take advantage of long-term planning and saving. Parents can put away money for college through a 529 plan such as Missouri’s MOST 529. These plans offer tax advantages and other benefits for investing in a dedicated account to pay for tuition and other qualifying college expenses.

“Family members can contribute to these plans instead of buying toys that will break in a couple of weeks,” Law said.

Visit the MU Office for Financial Success website at

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