Getting Cash for College
HAMPDEN, MA – (OCTOBER 25, 2006) – The American dream is built on the idea that hard work and education is the key to better opportunities and building a better way of life. However, for too many families, this dream is being pushed further and further out of reach as college costs continue to rise.
“The cost for college for children born in 2004 will range from $193,000 for a public college and up to about $400,000 for private college according to the most recent estimates,” says Ray Andrée, president of Kitchen Table Advice (www.KitchenTableAdvice.com), which helps regular folks learn for to save for retirement, college and beyond by serving up practical advice not tied to any specific financial service.
“But before you freak out about the numbers, you need to know that saving for college has less to do with wealth than you may think,” says Andrée. “Sure, every parent worries about whether they’ll be able to afford to send their kids to college. But you are putting the cart before the horse if you are dreaming–or worrying–about having loads of cash on hand to send the little tykes to an Ivy League college.”
Once you start looking closely at your spending and taking a common sense approach, you may be surprised at how easy it is to sock away a little for college. Andrée suggests the following to make a savings for college easier:
1. The Early Bird Gets The Worm. There is no substitute for time and the power of compound returns, and it's easier than you think to get started. "Consider giving up an immediate pleasure today for the gift of education down the road," Andrée says. He suggests that instead of going out to a fancy restaurant for dinner twice a month, put that $200 into a 529 college savings plan. “Believe it or not, a $207 hypothetical monthly investment for 18 years at an 8% annual return could potentially net as much as $100,000 toward a college education."
2. Consistency is Key. "Set a plan and stick with it through regular monthly deposits. Get into the habit of regular saving first, and then you can increase the amount over time. Just get started! If you have trouble finding room in your budget for a regular investment, think about other ways to find the money," he explains. For example, if your child goes from daycare into grammar school, why not put that money into a regular 529 investment? Or, earmark a portion of your annual tax refund toward a 529 plan.
3. Make it an (Extended) Family Affair. "Get your friends, family and the child's grandparents involved. At holidays and birthdays, ask for contributions toward a college fund instead of the latest toy," he recommends.
4. Ask a Professional. Andrée notes that a college savings should be part of an overall financial plan, but there are many ways to approach it. "A professional financial advisor can help you develop a long-term plan to work toward your family's financial goals," he says.
Andrée points out that education isn’t just a degree, but teaching your children how to save is also integral. He suggests getting a piggy bank where you can put extra change.
“Education is an important part of our children's future. Unfortunately, it does not come cheap,” Andrée says. “Start saving now to help ensure our children's success.”
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