Tara Kamin
Corporate Communications Manager
(515) 273-7404 |

Guest Column

Planning for Education After High School

By Dan Clute
Iowa Student Loan Liquidity Corporation

(Feburary 29, 2024) – Does your student know exactly what path to take after high school? Deciding which option is best and planning how to pay for it can be challenging for many families. As with many major decisions in life, planning for the next step can have a large effect on success. Families with high school and middle school students can use these tips to start.

1.)Explore the possibilities.

Even if a student has a career in mind, investigating possible occupations is important in today’s changing environment. The nature of many jobs could evolve with new uses of technology and demographic trends. Your student can start with the freeReturn on College Investment tool available on the ISL Education Lending website. This tool provides an overview of starting salaries, job duties and educational paths for careers.

2.)Build a solid foundation.

You can expand your own knowledge to help your student using two other free resources from ISL Education Lending. The Parent Handbook for parents of sixth- to 12th-graders provides quick useful tips for financial and academic planning for college and other educational paths.

The twice-monthly Student Planning Pointers for Parentsnewsletter for parents of eighth- to 12th-graders also provides topics and tips based on the students’ grade levels, so you can have meaningful, ongoing discussions with your child.

3.)Understand the budget.

Once you and your student have narrowed down some possible paths, it’s important to research the cost of education in relation to your student’s and your family’s budget. If your student will attend college, the College Funding Forecaster can help you estimate a total cost of a college education.

You may have heard that a published cost for attending a college isn’t the real cost a family pays. Financial aid, such as scholarships and grants, can reduce the cost. One way to get an understanding of the financial aid your student may qualify for is to complete the estimator tool at Keep in mind this tool only provides an estimate of federal financial aid. Your student may be eligible for additional aid from a specific college or university.

4.)Have open conversations.

Frequent check-ins can help everyone adjust expectations.

Consider discussing the amount of savings or income that will be available for your student to use for college costs, the type of college or university the student would like to attend, geographical location, and other aspects the student is looking for in an education.

Another important topic is overall comfort with student loans. All student loans need to be repaid with interest, so comparing a total expected loan amount with a realistic starting salary for a career can bring perspective. Student Loan Game Plan is another tool that can help a student understand how student loan debt affects future lifestyle.

5.)Adjust the plan as needed.

As your student approaches high school graduation, changes to their goals or to your family’s financial situation will affect their educational path. Your student may find that they are able to save a substantial amount of their own earnings or receive scholarships that help pay for their expenses. They may choose to save money by living at home, starting at a community college instead of a four-year college, or making other choices to reduce their expenses. As they learn more about possible careers, a new career path may mean a different type of educational path.

Where to Start

The ISL Education Lending tools and resources are available online any time at page also offer calculators, articles, videos and other resources to help you on your college planning journey.


To download full image, right-click and choose “save image as”