For students

What CommonBond’s $10k Parent PERKS Scholarship winner learned about paying for college

Now more than ever, the news is flooded with stories about how difficult it can be for kids to pay their way through college. Bearing that in mind, Kari Harrison and her husband decided that they wanted to do everything they could in order to shoulder the costs of college for their two kids.


There was just one problem—the Harrisons were still in college themselves when they got married, and had never put money aside for their children’s future educations. The remedy to their situation? A deep dive into the unfamiliar world of scholarships, grants, and student loans.


It was in that world that they found a windfall. Last month, CommonBond reached out to Kari Harrison to let her know that she had won a $10k Parent PERKS scholarship!


The Harrisons can rest a little easier now… and more importantly, they’ve learned a lot about paying for college.


An Introduction to College Funding


When a child goes to college, it’s a learning experience for their parents, too. And when parents have two kids in college at once, like the Harrisons, the lessons come hard and fast.


The Harrisons were lucky enough that their son received a number of scholarships—nearly enough to cover the entire cost of college. For their daughter, Anna—currently a sophomore at Michigan State University, not far from the Harrisons’ home of Grand Blanc—they’re paying in full.


Anna took out a subsidized loan, which the Harrisons plan on paying off for her. But between figuring out loans and filling out the FAFSA, Kari says, “It’s a lot different than when we went to school.” She soon found herself inundated with payment options, and could only do her best to explore every avenue.


The Harrisons wanted to abide by the deal they struck with their children—they’d pay for college, but the kids were responsible for extras (Anna pays her own sorority expenses, for instance).


Nevertheless—and with their son soon applying to grad school—the Harrisons were in danger of running out of money.


A Pleasant Surprise


Like so many other families with kids in college, the Harrisons were applying to as many scholarships as they could find. One day, when Kari was off work, she applied to CommonBond’s Parent PERKS scholarship.


Kari had never heard of CommonBond before, and she didn’t give the scholarship a second thought after she submitted the form, but she was shocked to learn that she had won the prize: $10,000, which was then disbursed directly to Anna’s school.


Kari says that she is “truly grateful” for the scholarship, and her family “appreciates it more than you will know.”


Now that she’s learned about CommonBond, Kari is interested in finding out even more about what the company can do for her family. Between low-interest, stress-free student loans and refinancing options, that $10,000 scholarship may be just the start of the Harrisons’ savings.


Words of Wisdom


The Harrisons were lucky enough to get a major boost in their quest to pay for college, but the whole experience provided an education of its own.


First, Kari tells parents, “start an account today if you’re having babies now.” It’s best to start saving as early as possible. You’ll still want to look into scholarships and other options, but you’ll have a nest egg to get things started.


As for students in high school, if they have the opportunity to take classes for college credit, they should do it. “My son took seven college classes in high school, and he’ll graduate [college] in three years,” Kari says. Given all the costs associated with college, it’s hard to quantify just how much he has saved.


Though a $10,000 scholarship win doesn’t come around everyday, the rest of what the Harrisons have found will serve them long into the future—and we can all learn from it.


Have questions about paying for college? Check out our dedicated resource here, with more blog posts, loan counseling, and tips from our financial aid experts. CommonBond is here to help.

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