It’s no secret – college is expensive. In fact, at least 65 percent of jobs in the near future will require education or training beyond high school, making it a wise choice to prepare early for education expenses. Whether your child (or grandchild) is planning to attend a community college or trade school, or striving for a bachelor’s or master’s degree, a little saving can make a big dent in tuition and expenses.
There are several savings vehicles for you to choose from. While each has its own set of rules and benefits, the one thing they have in common is the benefit of compounding interest. The earlier you establish and implement a savings plan, the more you will be able to earn and save.
Use a college savings calculator to estimate potential college costs, based on your child’s age and expected high school graduation date. A calculator can help you set a target monthly savings rate that you can begin to build into your monthly budget. You may also want to consider making extra contributions at year-end or at times when you have a little extra cash on hand.
Take an honest look at your budget. It might be tempting to scale back on retirement funding to increase funding to college savings plans. But remember: there are scholarships, public and private grants, financial aid and loan opportunities to supplement college savings; but there are no loans to cover the cost of retirement. Avoid putting your own retirement goals on hold while saving for your child’s education.
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