SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The cost of college has a lot of people stressed out. A new study from Discover shows 31 percent of parents with college kids say they’ll have to work longer in life and retire later because they’re helping their child pay for school.

We meet with an admissions specialist at Augustana University to find out how families can avoid the financial stress of school.

Many people believe a college education is worth the investment. However, not everyone is prepared for the bill when school’s out.

At Augustana, Vice President for Enrollment Nancy Davidson wants families to do their research early.

“Just visiting with their student about how much parents have saved and how much they feel they’ll be able to contribute. So the student kind of has an idea going into how much those scholarship dollars are really going to help defray the cost of their college education and why it’s so important for them to do their very best,” Davidson said.

Davidson says scholarship research really is going to make the biggest impact. She suggests kids in their Freshman or Sophomore years of high school pay attention to what scholarships upper classmen are receiving and ask them for advice.

“Some students and parents kind of make it a part-time job looking for outside scholarships, and some of them have been very successful,” Davidson said.

Davidson says Augie does have payment plans that are flexible, so families can find the right fit for them. She also suggests students look into work-study programs. Davidson says it’s important to have open communication about what money parents may have set aside and how the family plans to prepare for the future expense.

“Make a list of colleges that they think they might be interested in, regardless of price. And then start making campus visits and conversations with financial aid admissions professionals about what is possible, and I think many of them will realize it’s all going to be okay,” Davidson said. 

Davidson says most universities will have cost calculators on their website, so families with younger students can start looking into what they will be facing down the road. She says the more you think ahead, the better you can prepare a plan of action.