Planning Ahead: The College Fund
The best time to begin investing in your child’s college education is…now! That is if you can. There really is no right or wrong time. Some parents start as early as the first trimester. Why? Because college is expensive and should your child choose to attend, saving in advance can help fund their education without impacting your retirement or savings. Not to mention, the expense is increasing by the day. According to the College Board, tuition and fees at four-year public institutions have increased by 51% in the last decade. So, unless you’re swimming in Daddy Warbucks’ cash then you might want to get ahead of the game. A few dollars set aside each month can add up over time.
There are so many families unaware of the innumerable expenses associated with obtaining a degree. Additionally, about half of college freshmen in the U.S. underestimate the amount of debt they will incur. So, let’s break down the basics.
The most common expense associated with higher education. This amount will vary depending on the school. Some determining factors include the number of credits you take and where you live. Many students choose colleges near home just to take advantage of the in-state rate.
Room & Board
Living on campus comes at an expense. From dorm rooms to meal plans, the fees will vary contingent upon the plan you choose. Even if you decide to skip on Ramen and campus living, you’ll still need to factor in your own rent and groceries to get an accurate estimate.
Books & Supplies
With school comes textbooks and course materials, and they also come at a hefty price. For the average full-time undergraduate student in-state at a four-year public college, books and supplies add up to about $1,298 a year. An economical option is to buy used books or rent them as need.
From laundry to your cell phone bill, and anything you spend money on outside of school should be factored into your budget as well.
You’ll have some transportation costs whether you own a vehicle or not. Keep in mind holiday and vacation travel, especially if you attend college out of state.
As exciting as it may be, saving for college can also bring on stress and anxiety. There are far too many instances where finances become the barrier between a student and his or her degree. Breaking down the cost ahead of time can help prepare you for what’s to come. Money should never deter students from higher learning, so be sure to check back next week as we discuss the many different loan options that could help offset the expense.