Former President of Education Finance
Citizens Financial Group
It is never too early to start planning for college. Saving for college should ideally begin years before high school, but parents and students should be in full financial planning mode by junior year. Once families have decided how much they can afford to spend on college and compare it to the cost of the universities of their choice, there is often a financial gap. To help fill this gap, I encourage you to explore all your funding options so you can make informed decisions that best fit your needs. Typically, applying for scholarships and grants is the best primary option, but that may not fill the entire gap. But there are still a few options. For some families, an unsubsidized federal loan is a good choice, and for others, it's a private loan typically from a bank. For others still, it's both. I encourage families to look into each of these options and compare all rates and fees before making a choice. For families looking to begin the process to save for college very early—which we highly encourage—Citizens Bank has a savings program called College Saver, a monthly savings program that rewards customers with a potential $1,000 bonus toward school costs.
Learn more about planning to pay for college in our Financial Aid section, and help your student start looking for scholarships now using our Scholarship Search tool.