May 14, 2024

Preparing to send your child to college? Higher education is expensive, and even more so if they choose to go to the mainland and must stay in a dorm or apartment. College-related expenses also add up fast and can place a big dent in your wallet. And in some instances, they can deplete your reserves. There are several options to make paying for your child's education easier, allowing them to achieve their academic goals and earn a degree.

How to cover college expenses for your child

Financial aid is the first type of assistance to consider when researching ways to cover your child’s college-related expenses. It is offered in three forms: 

●    Grants: free money that you typically don’t have to pay back 
●    Student loans: funds you borrow from the U.S. Department of Education or a private lender that are to be repaid over time with interest
●    Work-study programs: employment offered through the college or university to undergraduate and graduate students to help minimize higher education costs 

But what happens when the aid offered isn’t enough to cover the cost of attendance? 

You don't have to empty your savings to fund your child's college education. Check out these alternative solutions:

1. Scholarships
Your student can apply for scholarships offered through the college or university they’re planning to attend or already attending. Scholarship databases, like and, are another way to identify opportunities to earn free money. Using these resources is at no cost and your child can set up a profile to receive tailored scholarship email alerts that match their needs. 

HawaiiUSA also awards 20 scholarships of $2,000 each annually - 12 to graduating high school seniors and 8 to undergraduate or graduate students. Graduating seniors must be planning to attend a two- or four-year accredited institution of higher learning. You must be enrolled in an accredited institution of higher learning to qualify for consideration. 

You’re invited to apply if you’ve been a HawaiiUSA credit union member for at least 12 consecutive months and meet the eligibility criteria. Otherwise, consider joining so you’ll be eligible to apply in the future. 

2. Part-time jobs
A part-time job is another ideal way for your child to fill financial aid gaps. Encourage them to apply for employment near the college or university they’re attending to minimize transportation costs. It’s also ideal as these employers are more likely to work with your student’s busy schedule. Your student may also have luck finding part-time employment opportunities on campus if they weren’t awarded work-study.

3. Payment plan
Contact the cashier’s office and inquire about a payment plan. Your student may be eligible for a payment arrangement that lets them spread out the bill for tuition and fees over the semester. This gives you and your child more time to come up with the funds needed to fill the financial aid gap. Plus, having a payment plan for college tuition allows for more manageable payments, avoiding the risk of late fees and promoting a stress-free education experience for your child.

4. Emergency aid 
Some schools have a pool of emergency aid reserved for students experiencing financial hardship and who have exhausted all other options. It’s generally a loan designed to prevent students from dropping out due to financial constraints.

5. Financial gifts
A financial gift can help a student pay for college expenses by reducing what they need to borrow in loans or pay out of pocket. Gifts can come from family members, friends, organizations, and charities. Financial gifts count as support on the student’s financial aid application, so be sure you understand how they are recorded.

6. Other funding options
If you have a sizable amount of equity in your home, you can use it to help fund your child’s education. A cash-out refinance lets you convert a portion of your equity into cash and use it however you see fit. To illustrate how this works, assume your current mortgage is $375,000, and you pull $30,000 in equity out of your home. The lender will pay off your balance, give you the $30,000 in cash, and your new mortgage will be $405,000.

You can also apply for a home equity line of credit (HELOC) for the cash needed to help fund your child’s education. This gives you access to a pool of cash you can pull from on an as-needed basis. It works like a credit card, and you can continue to re-use the funds as you pay them back. 

Start your search for the perfect home equity product by exploring all the options we have to offer. If you find a suitable opportunity, make an appointment with our experts. They can talk to you about your specific funding needs, answer any questions, and help guide you on accessing money to cover any gaps in your child's financial aid.