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No matter how you look at it, college is an expensive proposition these days. Both public and private colleges and universities have had to raise fees and tuition as costs have increased. As a result, college student debt has skyrocketed and many students end up with loan payments years, sometimes even decades, after graduation. But with some careful planning and creative thinking, there are lots of other ways to help pay for college and avoid being stuck with big loan payments after graduation. One final but important step in the college application process is to include an application for financial aid.

As parents, and grandparents for that matter, we consider it to be a bit of a rite of passage to tell our children just how easy they have it compared to what we went through at their age. File this under the “when I was your age, I had to walk 2 miles to school each day, uphill both ways” category.

For any parent of a college-bound student, SAT and ACT test scores are no doubt at the center of most dinner table discussions. While no one will argue that test scores alone are the deciding factor in college admissions, and many colleges are moving toward a test-optional admissions policy, strong scores on the SAT and or ACT can definitely help a student’s chance of gaining admission to his/her college of choice.