Monday, November 27, 2023

How To Start Saving For College

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Create An Emergency Funds Account

How to Start Saving for College the Easy Way

Speaking of savings, aim to have $500 in an emergency fund before you head to school, says Colleen Krumwiede, co-founder and CEO of Quatro Money.

A 2018 report revealed that 57% of students surveyed would find it difficult to cover a $500 crisis with cash or a credit card. Thats even more concerning now than it was two years ago, because you never know what curveballs coronavirus will throw at you.

Make certain you have quick, easy access to these funds in FDIC-insured checking or savings account in case your college sends another dreaded email telling you to leave campus in a matter of days, Krumwiede says.

But its important to distinguish between regular savings and emergency savings. Your emergency fund should be for truly urgent expenses your car breaks down, you need to fly home suddenly or youre sick and need to pay a doctors bill. All your other costs should be covered by a monthly budget, perhaps one you create with your parents before move-in day.

What Is The Best Way To Save For College 529 Plans

There are several ways to save for college, including 529 college savings plans, prepaid tuition plans and Coverdell education savings accounts. Of these, 529 plans are the best way to save for college.

Start saving for college when the child is young. Aim to save about one third of future college costs. Set up an automatic monthly transfer from your bank account to the 529 plan.

Choose a direct-sold 529 plan with low fees, ideally one with a state income tax break on contributions. Use an age-based or enrollment-date asset allocation within the 529 plan to balance risk and return.

529 plans are the best way to save for college.


Choose A Cheaper College

Most colleges do not meet the students full financial need. The average unmet need is over $10,000 nationwide. So, most families will need to save or borrow or both.

Choosing a cheaper college will reduce the amount you need to save. While you cant predict the specific college your child will attend, you can steer your child toward a lower-cost type of college. Public colleges, especially in-state public colleges, are less expensive than private colleges.

You can look up a college’s net price using College Navigator. This tool will also show you how the net price has changed over time.

The net price is the discounted sticker price, which is the difference between the full cost of attendance and the gift aid . It is the amount you’ll have to pay from savings, income and loans. The higher the net price, the more you’ll need to save or borrow.

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How Much Does College Cost

Currently, the average cost of tuition and fees for four years at a public, in-state college is $42,240. For an out-of-state public program, the average cost is $108,080 for four years. If your child plans to go to a private institution, the average cost is $150,600 for four years. Room and board, which covers on-campus housing and meals, costs an additional $46,480 on average for four years at a public college and $52,480 on average for private, totaling $88,720 for a public, in-state college, $154,560 for a public, out-of-state college and $203,080 for a private institution. And, in all likelihood, those numbers will continue to ascend: Rates are expected to increase by at least 1% to 2% every year to keep in line with inflation.

College 529 Savings Plans


A 529 college savings plan, also known as a qualified tuition plan, is one of the best choices for a college fund for baby. The 529 plan allows you to save money for future education expenses and, as an added benefit, it is tax-advantaged. Even though the federal government does not allow you to deduct the contributions you make to a 529 plan on your federal tax return, those contributions are often deductible on your state tax return. In some cases, a state may offer a tax credit instead. The rules regarding tax-deductibility of contributions are made on a state-by-state basis.

When choosing a College 529 Savings Plan, be sure and choose one that is flexible. That means you can move your money between mutual funds within the plan. If you choose a plan that is fixed or life phase, you wont be able to stay in control of your money. The amount of your contribution per year is not specified except that the law says you can only contribute up to the expected amount of education expenses. The lifetime limit on contributions to a College 529 Plan is $235,000 to $529,000, depending on the state in which you live. This college fund for baby stays in the name of the parents.

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Make Saving Easy Automate It

Once you choose a savings account that’s right for you, make it automatic, says Sophia Bera, founder of Gen Y Planning. Bera recommends setting up weekly contributions from checking to savings or changing your direct deposit so that a portion of each check goes directly into your savings. This gives you one less thing to think about each month and gives you more security for a rainy day. It also ensures consistency and the more discipline you develop around savings, the better the lifelong skill.

Steinberg agrees: “Pay yourself before you pay everyone else. Make yourself an expense.”

Tips For Saving For College As A Teen Or Adult

Saving for a teen or adult can be trickier and a lot more stressful than saving for a young child. That doesnt make it impossible. With the right investments and budgeting strategy, you can save enough to cover a semester or more, which will significantly reduce your debt and total paid into your education.

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What Type Of Savings Account Should You Use

There are three types of specialized college savings accounts: 529 college savings plans, prepaid tuition plans and Coverdell education savings accounts.

Of these accounts, 529 plans offer the best mix of tax and financial aid advantages.

  • Favorable tax treatment. Like a Roth IRA or Roth 401, contributions are made with after-tax dollars. Earnings accumulate on a tax-deferred basis and are entirely tax-free if used to pay for qualified higher education expenses. Unlike a Roth IRA, more than two-thirds of the states offer a state income tax deduction or tax credit based on contributions to the states 529 plan.
  • Favorable financial aid treatment. If a 529 plan is owned by a dependent student or the dependent students parent, it is reported as a parent asset on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and distributions are ignored. Parent assets are assessed on a bracketed scale, with a top bracket of 5.64%. This yields a less severe impact on eligibility for need-based financial aid than student assets, which reduce aid eligibility by 20% of the asset value.

529 plans have generous contribution limits. 529 plans have special estate-planning benefits, such as superfunding . 529 plans do not have income restrictions.

Almost all states offer at least one 529 college savings plan. Most states offer a direct-sold 529 plan and an advisor-sold 529 plan. Direct-sold 529 plans are offered directly by the state. Advisor-sold 529 plans are offered through financial advisors.

Choose A Savings Plan

Start saving for your child’s college tuition now

There are a ton of savings plans to choose from, and its important to understand the implications of each, and what it can mean for your childs future.

When thinking about how much to contribute to whatever plan you choose, review your cash flow to determine how much you can realistically dedicate to college savings while not disrupting your current lifestyle or saving for other goals, says AnnaMarie Mock, a wealth advisor at HIGHLAND Financial Advisors in Wayne, New Jersey.

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Scholarships Grants And Work

Applying for scholarships and grants can significantly reduce the out-of-pocket costs of going to college. This can be the students job while in high school. The time spent applying for these opportunities might be even more lucrative than a traditional job.

Regardless of what you get, dont stop applying for scholarships once you start college. Many scholarships focus on certain majors, campus organizations, internships and ongoing grades. And the competition may be less because other students stop applying once school starts.

Work-study programs can help fill the financial gap of college costs. These positions are similar to a job off-campus, but they may be easier to get hired for. Plus, they generally offer better flexibility since they know youre a student and your education must come first.

Start Saving For Your Childs College Early

Ideally, the best time to start a college fund is when your child is born. With compound interest and regular investments made monthly or yearly, the funds have an opportunity to grow over a longer period of time, and you dont need to put aside as much each month or year to reach your savings goal.

Your funding can be modest, and many parents find they can afford $25$100 from each paycheck, automatically deposited into the college savings plan of their choice. If you get a raise or bonus, that money can also be allocated toward college savings.

Family members can contribute to a child’s college savings by opening their own 529 plan accounts. They can also make contributions to an established 529 account under the child’s parents’ name, if the plan that the parents use accepts third-party contributions.

Some plans don’t accept these contributions, in which case it’s best to create a new account or gift the parents cash intended for deposit into the 529 plan. Regardless of how the plan is set up, its important to maintain contribution levels that will ensure you can afford tuition and other costs. Such discipline can be particularly useful if you face additional financial obligations later.

No matter what plan you choose, starting a college savings fund for your child is a big investment. Let a Nationwide financial professional help guide the process.

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What About Your Retirement Account

Some parents are tempted to raid their own retirement accounts in order to help their children with college costs. While it’s possible for you to withdraw money penalty-free from an IRA to cover college costs for your child, it might not be the best idea.

Once you withdraw that money, it’s no longer working on your behalf. As they say, there are loans for school, if necessary, but no loans for retirement. Don’t put your own future at risk to pay for your child’s college.

Average Cost Of A Four

How to Start Saving for Your Child

According to, the average cost of tuition at any four-year institution is $20,471 per year. Private schools tend to be higher, while in-state private tuition is lower. This average is for tuition only, and it does not include books, meals, housing and other costs.

While many families are shocked by the price tag of college tuition, there are many ways to reduce the costs of any college education. Living at home, attending a community college for the first two years and scholarships/grants all help to reduce this cost. Many universities have an endowment that helps to make tuition more affordable as well.

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Choose The Best College Savings Option For You

First, its important to choose the investment vehicle that meets your needs. There are several fund types to choose from, all with their own rules and tax consequences. You can even have more than one account, depending on how your finances change over time. Below are some college saving products to consider:

Start With The Baby Shower

As suggested before, before your baby is born is also an ideal time to start saving for their college education. If youre gifted checks, cash, or bonds at the baby shower, put a good chunk of that straight into the college fund. Other events may happen in your childs life where bonds are received, like religious events, early birthdays, and other achievements and milestones. These are also great opportunities to invest in their future.

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Save Your Graduation Money

While you might be tempted to use high school graduation gifts to purchase a new smartphone or other exciting devices, youre better off putting that money into a savings account. Leave a portion of it out to reward yourself for all your hard work, but hang onto the majority of it for school. Youll need money for books, food and all kinds of miscellaneous expenses you may not have thought about before.

What If I Don’t End Up Needing The Money For My Kid’s College

How Families Can Start Saving for College

Because a 529 plan is primarily used to save for the cost of higher education, it’s difficult to use those funds effectively toward anything else. This is one reason why some parents may be hesitant to open a 529.

But Borglum argues that 529 plans do offer some flexibility, so parents shouldn’t worry too much about their funds going unused.

“You can even use the accounts to pay for up to $10,000 per year in tuition for K-12 schools,” Borglum says. This annual $10,000 threshold spend applies to elementary, middle or high school tuition. Plus, $10,000 of your 529 plan can go toward student loan payments. You can also change the account’s beneficiary to a family member, such as a sibling, niece or nephew, for their own qualified education expense use. You could even use the money to fund your own higher education endeavors.

In the worst-case scenario, you could distribute the funds for non-educational reasons and simply pay tax on the growth, plus a 10% penalty on the earnings, Borglum explains. “Many times, this impact isn’t too severe, especially if the beneficiary is in a low tax bracket,” she explains.

Borglum adds that she even uses clients’ 529 accounts at times to transfer family wealth to a younger generation, whether or not the intent is to use for education.

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How To Save For College: The Ultimate Guide For Parents And Students

For many, college is a door to a prosperous future, and it elevates feelings of excitement and brings a taste of freedom. Its a younger students chance to become an adult, learning both life and book smarts. Its an older students opportunity to broaden their horizons and grow their passion or career. For whoever is paying for college, its often a wave of financial stress and uncertainty. When Americans owe a collective $1.5 trillion in student debt, youre probably wondering how to save for college.

Student loans make up 11 percent of the cumulative debt in the U.S., surpassing auto loans and credit card debt, and they maintain the highest rate of delinquency across all debt types. Thats no surprise when 43 percent of adults who attend college incur some amount of debt, and 24 percent of those have depended on credit cards to pay for school.

In 201819, the average cost of one year at a four-year, in-state public college was just over $21,950. If your student is looking to get away from home a few states over, that cost will nearly double to $38,330, then climb even higher to $49,870 for a private institution. The average cost of tuition has continued to rise over the last decade, which is why its more important than ever to understand how to save for college and build an accurate education budget. Whether youre saving for a child or planning for your return to college, we have tips to help you pay the bill.

Develop A Plan With A Financial Adviser

Over half of parents with children in 10th grade or higher wish they had saved more per month the median saved is $200 each month. Notably, those with a financial adviser saved a total of roughly $14,000 more than parents without an adviser.

A financial adviser can be a great resource when starting your child’s college fund savings. They can help you navigate the multitude of options available, including how to maximize your investments and make withdrawals the most effective when the time comes. When you work with a financial adviser, they can paint a clear path to college for your child with manageable savings goals. If you plan to apply for grants, scholarships or financial aid, a financial adviser can also help you with that process, and factor that into your college fund savings.

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Where Should You Invest Your Money

If you’re investing for college you should consider opening a 529 savings plan or a state-sponsored investment account exclusively used for investing for school. With 529 savings plans, individuals can use the money they withdraw for college and K-12 tuition and other qualified educational expenses without paying income tax on any investment gains.

529 savings plans contain a variety of different funds such as mutual funds, bonds funds and ETFs. They are generally recommended for investing for college because of the tax benefits people get from them: You can contribute up to $15,000 tax-free and your earnings will grow tax-free.

States offer different 529 savings plans, and you don’t need to be a resident of that state in order to qualify for an account. However, certain states may offer tax benefits for in-state contributions. For example, in New York, in-state residents have tax-deductible contributions, so residents can reduce the amount of their taxable income if they invest in a 529 savings plan.

You can also opt to invest for your child’s education using a brokerage account or a 529 prepaid tuition plan. These, however, are less popular options.

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