Financial Planning for Postsecondary Education

Financial planning will differ based on the student’s postsecondary goals and career plans. In all cases, however, the student and/or family should carefully explore the options and develop a finance plan BEFORE making any postsecondary commitments. Planning should begin no later than the student’s freshman or sophomore year in high school since the learning curve is fairly steep for some options and application dates may vary.

For example, apprentices are paid employees whose employers may pay part, all, or none of the related instruction costs. Employers may also place conditions on paying such as successfully completing each year of instruction. Apprenticeship application materials may contain information about pay rates and who pays for related instruction. If not, the apprenticeship director or employer should clearly explain who will pay for related instruction before the apprenticeship agreement is signed.

Some Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs are offered by industry groups, trade associations and employers. In these cases, the cost of the training may be paid by the program sponsor or the student. The program director or employer should answer finance questions before any contracts are signed or commitments are made.

Other CTE programs may be provided by independent postsecondary schools (also known as proprietary schools) as well as nonprofit and for-profit colleges and universities. Just like academic colleges and universities, these schools have access to federal, state and other financial options such as grants, loans,and scholarships for which students may apply. It is imperative that students and families clearly understand their options, the terms of each financial instrument and the consequences for defaulting on loans and other commitments before committing to a financial arrangement.

For more information on financial planning, visit our Scholarships, Grants and Financial Resources for Students with Disabilities page.

To further measure your understanding of the financial aid landscape, take this short financial aid quiz.

Internal Resources

Project 10 - Accreditation
A-Z Glossary entry providing information on institutional and programmatic accreditation and licensing of postsecondary institutions - required reading for all students who are applying to postsecondary schools and their families.

Project 10 - Disability Support Services Resources for Florida Colleges and Universities
Click on the county in which the college or university is located and then the "College/University Resources" link. Contact information is provided for the Disability Support Services office/staff who can assist students with disabilities who are applying to the college or university as well as provide referrals to admissions office staff and other resources.

Project 10 - Florida School District Resources
Click on a county and then the "Local School District Resources" link. Contact information is provided for Exceptional Student Education (ESE) directors and transition specialists who can assist students with disabilities who are applying to college as well as provide referrals to guidance counselors and other resources.

External Resources

2015 - 2016 Counselors and Mentors Handbook on Federal Student Aid (pdf)
Describes the major federal student aid programs, who is eligible to apply for them, how to apply, what to expect after applying and sources of additional information. View federal student aid publications and resources in Spanish at www.StudentAid.gov/recursos.

ABLE United
Floridians with disabilities can use an ABLE United account as a tax-free way to save money while continuing to maintain benefits.

College Navigator
This website is sponsored by the United States Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences and the National Center for Education Statistics. Users can search for information on schools, colleges and libraries, including information on affordability, price, financial aid, campus safety, graduation rates and more.

Federal Student Aid for Counselors
Online source of federal student aid information to help students and parents plan and prepare for college and career/trade schools including information on eligibility, FAFSA, deadlines, calculators, promotional materials and more.

Financial Aid information for Comprehensive Transition and Postsecondary programs (CTP)
Explains how students with disabilities may be able to qualify for federal funding through CTP programs and include lists of eligible schools by state.

Florida Office of Student Financial Assistance
Florida Department of Education Website containing information on student loans, state grants and scholarships, online applications, definitions of financial aid terms, answers to questions frequently asked by students and teachers and detailed instructions on applying for aid. A toll-free telephone number and e-mail address are provided for questions. Also has information on financial aid available to veterans. Information for teachers and postsecondary institutions is password protected.

Florida Shines
FloridaShines is an informational hub for college and career topics. This site makes it easy to learn about degrees, register for an online course, get a transcript copy, or check out a book from any of Florida’s 40 state colleges or university libraries.

My Money
The Department of Financial Services created the My Money Program to provide educational lessons for individuals with developmental disabilities and important resources for family members and caregivers. The My Money Program allows individuals to learn and practice financial skills at their own pace, using interactive games, activities and educational videos. Lessons focus on money basics, banks and credit unions, accounts, budgeting, government benefit programs and ways to find and keep employment.

Paying For College, ThinkCollege!
This section of the ThinkCollege! website provides information on a number of options that students with disabilities are using to pay for college, including financial aid, scholarships, tuition waivers and resource mapping, among others.

Student Aid on the Web
U.S. Department of Education Website containing information on applying to postsecondary schools, college, applying for federal financial aid, repaying loans and setting up a password-protected personal account containing applications, college information, financial aid information and more. Print and online versions of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) are also available. Additional resources include financial calculators, scholarship searches, audio and video informational programs and links to additional federal aid programs such as Gear Up and TRIO in each state.