As noted by the College Board, financial constraints are a common barrier to college enrollment. Given the massive economic impact of a college education on an individual’s life, a savings plan should be crafted.
It is true that starting a saving plan later can bring frustration. You want to give your child the best education, but the cost of education can be a deterant. Families must make hard decisions about their finances if they want to ensure their child receives a great education while trying to keep the student as debt-free as possible.
Below are some measures you can take to meet the cost of college.
1. Consider a 529 Plan
- 529 Plans can serve everyone, no matter your ecomonic situation. 529 plans are a tax-advantaged saving plan and are sponsored by states, state agencies, or educational 8institutions.
- Prepaid plans allow families to purchase tuition credits at today’s rates, but can be used in the future. As we have seen in the past, the cost of tuition has risen exponentially. If the past is any indication of future decision costs, this plan can be a huge cost saver. Currently prepaid plans are available in Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.
- If the student receives scholarships or other aid and you find out you have saved more than enough, the funds can be transfered to other family members.
- 529 Plans can cater to large, as well as small-scale savers. Programs have a variety of options you can choose from based on your needs.
2. Retirement Plans
Roth IRAs for Education, also known as Coverdell Education Savings Accounts, can help you pay for college.
- Individuals can withdraw funds from their IRA without pentality to pay for qualifed higher education expenses.
- Allows for a wide source of investment. As opposed to 529s, one can invest their money in a wide array of markets such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.
- Money in the parent or guardian’s retirement plan is not considered the child’s money when appylying for federal financial aid. This can benefit students because when the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is calculated, student assets are calculated at a much higher rate than their parent or guardians.
- One can withdraw IRA contributions to pay post-secondary expenses without incurring any tax penalities.
3. Internship or co-op programs
Instead of paying full college fees, one can go for colleges that offer internship programs for students before they begin their studies. In case they get stipends, the funds can be set aside for tuition. Besides the experience the students get, they also enjoy the salaries thatcan be saved to pay for tuition or fees.
Similarly, if the student participates in full-time paid co-op programs for some semesters, the money can be kept for future studies. During this time, the family can also get ample time to source for funds for the semesters to come. For instance, students pursuing doctorate degrees are offered units in undergraduate classes. Instead of being paid, they can have a contract that transfers the salaries to their student’s accounts.
if students qualify, they can have a work-study job. Students are offer work-study as part of their financial aid package. Many jobs on college campuses are only open to students who have work-study. While they have to work for the funds, students can use the money they earn from their work-study job to pay for their tuition and fees.
4. Prepare a scale of preference
Identify expenses which you can forego and channel the funds towards college fees. Strike off those expenses which may not add too much value to your life today. Trim the budget to ensure only necessities are catered for.
Finally, one should check against financial leaks. Avoid debts whose payment may overlap into the time your child’s college program begins. Moderate the number of family vacations. Choose the most appropriate car to drive.
To set yourself free from unnecessary strain, Ritely believes you should not set an unrealistic target to save for college. One should try to save throughout their child’s educational career.
Get an outline of what you can do today to help in meeting the child’s college demands by setting a clear savings roadmap. Upon starting it may seem possible, even if your earnings are meager. In this, you must set realistic expectations about the colleges your child can attend and the amount you are willing to pay. You may want to consider a community college for the first two years of study since community colleges are known to have lower price tags.
Finally, you must start now. No procrastination. Exploit all options and tap into the generosity of your friend and relatives.
|Isabel Speckman is a North Carolina-based freelance writer and work-from-home mother of two. In her 10 years as a professional writer, she’s worked in proposal management, grant writing, and content creation. Personally, she’s passionate about teaching her family how to stay safe, secure and action-ready in the event of a disaster or emergency.|