When should I start saving for my child's college education?

Answers

Joan Spitrey, Clinical Nursing Instructor

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If you are even thinking about it, then the time is now. There are many great options to assist in planning early for future college expenses. A financial adviser would be able to discuss all the options that would be appropriate for your situation. Many states have pre-paid college programs that will lock in the current cost of tuition at the time of investment. These are great plans and can certainly help reduce costs in the future. However, the best investment is time and energy in your children. Be present and encouraging as they navigate school. Invest in them and hopefully they will reach their potentials and maybe even get some scholarships! Good luck!

Laura Burgess Martin, Special needs parent; work in non-profit sector

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I agree with all of the above - the earlier the better! When my son was born (he just turned six), we opened a savings account. Any time he receives money for a birthday or special occasion, we make a big deal about taking the money to the bank and putting it into his account. The money will one day go towards his college tuition, books, room and board, etc. We are hoping to teach the value of saving to him early.

My parents started saving for my college very early. They had an agreement with both my sister and me that they would pay for our undergraduate degrees (provided we made good grades) and that we were responsible for any degrees after our undergraduate degree. While they had saved a substantial amount, my sister and I also made sure to apply for every single scholarship we knew about to help off set the cost of college since our parents had graciously agreed to pay for our undergraduate education.

Best wishes!

Lisa Friedman, Inclusive Educator, Religious School Director, writer & speaker

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I agree with the first response - If you are thinking about it, then the time is right to begin saving. The sooner the better, in my opinion, because as children get older their activities and opportunities cost more and more (not even factoring the possibility of private school tuition).

I agree that a conversation with a financial adviser is worthwhile. 529 plans, as mentioned in the other response, are a great option to consider.

Good luck!

Colleen Clemens, College Professor, Writer, Editor, Tutor & Parent

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With all signs pointing to the financial importance of a college degree plus the desire to help your child lead a fulfilling life, it makes sense to be asking this question. As the parent of a preschooler, I am already wondering how much college will cost in 15 years! The answer to your question is the soonest point at which you feel like you can save. Can you set aside her holiday or birthday money? Can you have something taken from your pay an put into a 529 plan automatically? I expect my child to save for her own books and other expenses once she starts earning her own money, so perhaps you can have an ongoing conversation with your child. The best thing you can do is support her in her interests and invest time in her. And if you can save some money along the way, start as soon as you feel you can.

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