3. College Cost Calculator
While the cost of going to college may generally continue to rise, there are tools to help you estimate future costs, like this College Cost Calculator. This will help you have the talk about college costs early with your children, keeping a healthy expectation of what costs might look like down the road.
4. Countdown to College Checklist
In addition to putting a financial plan in place, there are other things to keep track of when planning for college. The Countdown to College Checklist is an easy and stress-free way to help your entire family stay on top of important dates and deadlines during the college research and application process. The checklist begins with to-dos for your junior year of high school, all the way through to the end of senior year.
Prioritize Your College Choices
Academic programs, location, financial aid packages, sports, campus, and class – these are just some of the factors that may come into play when narrowing your student’s list of potential schools.
Of families who have started talking about college, 63% have discussed the student’s top schools of choice. So, hear your student out and be sure to find out what’s most important to them, and, if you’re a part of the selection decision, be clear about what’s most important to you.
Popular Strategies to Save for College
Did you know that family income and savings cover more than half (52%) of college costs? It’s true! And if you’re wondering what some of the best college saving options, here are a few suggestions.
One of the most common college savings accounts is a 529 plan. In fact, more than a third of parents (37%) used a college savings account, like a 529, to help pay for college, up from 21% in 2018-19.
529 plans are a popular option for families because they offer tax-deferred growth and tax-free withdrawals (if savings are used for qualified education expenses). Qualified education expenses include tuition, certain room and board expenses, fees, and the cost of books, supplies, and equipment. These plans also offer more generous annual contribution limits for savers which can in turn help you save what you need to make college happen! On average, families who used 529 plans saved $25,038.
Other common strategies to save for college are non-specialty accounts such as checking accounts, CDs, U.S. savings bonds, and noninstitutional savings.
While many of these savings tactics are a great way to get started, be sure to do your homework to find out which option will best suit your families’ college needs.
Don’t forget about resources like scholarships, grants, and financial aid, which can help cover costs associated with higher education. Apply for them early (and often), so you don’t miss out on any free money!
Remember, planning for college is an exciting time, and putting a plan in place early will help your family maximize every dollar while creating a positive experience for your student.