Set your savings goals
Before you start saving for college, it will help to identify your savings goals. There are a few ways to figure it out: by taking a percentage-based approach, a budget-based approach, or a “do what you can” approach.
- Percentage-based approach. Set a goal based on a percentage of the total cost of college (say, 15%, 20%, or 25%). If you don’t know how much college will cost, you can get an estimate with our free College Planning Calculator. Once you know the estimated total, you can set your percentage and figure out what that comes to annually and monthly.
- Budget-based approach. Start with your household budget. (Don’t have one? Use this worksheet.) Then see if you can budget a percentage of your income to go toward college savings. You’re saving a little at a time, so figure out how much you can afford. The important point is to make regular contributions.
- “Do what you can” approach. Maybe you can’t allocate a set amount of money regularly. When you do come across some extra money, put it into your separate college savings account. Birthday or holiday gifts, tax returns, or extra “found” money can add up.
Build your college savings plan with the College Planning CalculatorSM
According to How America Saves for College, 51% of families have a plan in place to save—and those planners save an average of 76% more than non-planners.
You can put your savings plan in place with the College Planning Calculator. This free planning tool can help you create a custom plan of action based on your budget and financial goals.
- Estimate and compare the cost of attendance for thousands of colleges and graduate schools.
- Understand and explore your funding options using savings, scholarships and grants, and student loans.
- Share your plans with family and friends for feedback and discussion.
- Update your plan as your child gets closer to college age.
Find out how saving more now may reduce borrowing in the future. Plus, when you register for the College Planning Calculator, you can enter for a chance to win $1,000.