Chicago families urged to explore college funding options

College decisions

Many Chicago parents share a dream of seeing their children attend college and receive a quality education that can help set the foundation for a successful career. But some fear that paying for college will be difficult.

“The important part is that parents do something,” says Sedrik Newbern, a Libertyville-based Allstate Insurance agent.

There are many college savings programs available from various sources that can help develop a savings plan tailored specifically to your situation. There are Illinois-specific 529 savings plans, as well as all sorts of grants, financial aid plans and even life insurance packages that provide college-funding options. The issue for many parents is choosing a strategy and taking action.

Sedrick Newbern“I recommend to just do something. Sometimes there’s this ‘analysis by paralysis’,” Newbern says. “[Have] a conversation with your insurance agent or financial specialist to figure out ways that you can accumulate money in a way that doesn’t put much of a tax burden on you and allows you to grow your money, so when your child is of college age, you’ll have money to pay for it.”

Newbern admits that while having a plan in place and taking action is important, the dramatic increases in the cost of college may be exceeding the amount of assistance available through traditional financial aid vehicles.

Costs Are on the Rise

Last October, The Washington Post reported that financial aid is not keeping pace with the rising cost of college, citing a study by the College Board Advocacy and Policy Center.

According to the story, the cost of college has risen faster than inflation for some time, and “Many states have slashed funding for higher education. The [College Board] report found state appropriations per student dropped 10 percent in 2011-12, a fourth straight year of decline.”

According to a Wall Street Journal report  on the same topic, The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s 2012 tuition and fees were $14,522 for residents in 2012, which amounts to a 47 percent increase since 2006.

That said, parents must still find ways to pay for their child’s education, because as Newbern says, “Not all kids are scholars or athletes and they won’t be eligible for scholarships. Who knows what options will be available or what those options will look like in 10 years.”

Quotes for Education

Which is precisely where companies like Allstate can–and do–step in. Since 2008, Allstate has offered its Quotes for Education program that is designed to help students of historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) finance their education. Working with partners such as the Tom Joyner Foundation, the UNCF (United Negro College Fund) and the Thurgood Marshall Foundation, the program has provided consumers a quick and easy way to support HBCU students.

This year, the Quotes for Education program raised $141,120 for The Tom Joyner Foundation to support HBCU students. These donations help form the Allstate/Tom Joyner Foundation Scholarship, which is awarded to financially in-need HBCU students each year.


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