More and more, the difference between a comfortable life and one of struggle is often a four-year college education.
If you have been procrastinating planning financially for your children’s college education, calculate the costs now. You will be shocked.
A generation ago, young people could work full-time in the summers and part-time during the school year and graduate from college debt-free. That is no longer the case.
Start setting aside money now
As soon as you decide to get pregnant or pursue adoption is not too early to start setting aside money for college. Make it a budget item and put something away every paycheck. This can be done painlessly with a 529 account. Your parents and close friends may want to make special- occasion contributions as well.
Discuss costs with your college-bound teen
Talk about the cost of college with your financial planner and your child: what you will pay; what the child will pay. It will help them be realistic about what types of colleges they apply to and build money management skills for life.
Talk to your children about the importance of getting good grades. Encourage them to connect with a counselor at school to build a relationship early.
Study college options together to get a feel for the varied costs. Include lower-cost community colleges in your exploration. Taking general courses there and transferring later can cut the cost of a degree substantially.
Encourage your child to participate
There are two ways children can help themselves: by prioritizing academics so they have a chance at scholarships, testing out of courses and/or earning dual high school/college credits; and by setting aside a portion of their own income for higher education.
As the parent, model the value of learning by taking an interest in your child’s assignments, helping with homework as needed, and being involved in organizations such as the PTA.
When they are old enough to get an allowance and/or work, talk to them about the cost of college and require them to save a portion of their earnings. This will not only help pay for college but encourage them to study hard once they get there (they will not want to waste their hard-earned money!). If they start early, their college fund can be enough to pay for incidentals by the time they are 18.
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This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information and provided by Kelly Financial Planning. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.