Programs Offer Free Money for College

It's often said that nothing is free, but saving for college can be if you know where to look

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    NEWSLETTERS

    It's often said that nothing is free, but saving for college can be if you know where to look. (Published Wednesday, Jul 14, 2010)

    It's often said that nothing is free, but saving for college can be if you know where to look.

    Upromise.com and Babymint.com are two sites that are changing the way people shop and save for higher education.

    Sign up online and every time you spend your money, retailers and service providers who are participating partners kick back money in a college for you or your kids.

    "It’s like free money," said Upromise user Kimberly Weissgerber.

    She knows what It cost her parents to pay for grad school.  And now with a baby of her own she is taking full advantage of how these programs work.

    Whether she shops on line or in the store, she can choose from hundreds of merchants who will actually pay her back when she makes purchases --  from 1 to 25 percent.

    For example, a search through both of these websites shows that the Apple store will kick back 1 percent of your purchase.  Saks Fifth Avenue coughs up 7 percent.   Frequently going to Starbucks?  The coffee chain will give you 6 percent back on every purchase.

    The money is automatically put into a special account to only be used for college, whether it's a 529 plans or a student loan.

    The websites track your spending through your credit and grocery cards, so they know what you buy and how much to give you back.

    In this economy, "that’s what we all need right now," said Bertha Podgorny, who has two boys, ages 14 and 10.

    "You shop and get money for college.  A no brainer!"

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