Tag Archives: tuition

Making college a reality, despite the price tag

| ara@queenscourier.com

Sending a student to college is a proud time for families. But with tuition costs rising and families continuing to face financial challenges, many are taking another look at how to pay for college.

According to the latest Merrill Edge Report, 56 percent of parents have paid or expect to pay more to send their first child to college than they had originally anticipated when the child was born. When asked why they are paying more, one in three parents who currently have a child in college or have one that has graduated said it was to keep their child out of debt.

“Paying for college is a big priority for our clients and with costs continuing to rise, we’re telling them it’s never too early or too late to readjust their financial plan for the true price of college,” said Dean Athanasia, preferred and small business executive at Bank of America. “Though it’s daunting, there are many steps you can take to prepare to send your child to school.”

Estimate the costs

The first thing you should do is estimate how much college will cost and what you can afford. To do this, you can take advantage of a number of tools online.

Once you calculate how much you’re able to spend, sit down as a family and go over your finances. Establish how much you’re able to afford and how you’ll pay for any additional costs that arise – for example, through your child taking on part-time jobs or student loans. Your child may have his sights set on a more expensive school, but after analyzing your finances your family may decide a more affordable university closer to home is the way to go.

Invest early

It all depends on your financial plan, but the sooner you can start saving for college, the better. Among parents who saved for college, 68 percent began doing so before their child reached the age of 6, according the 2011 Merrill Edge Report. And of those parents who saved, 38 percent wish they began earlier.

There are specialized ways to save for college education. Some college savings plans offer favorable tax incentives and flexibility in who can contribute to the plan, giving you more opportunity to save. In order to decide which account best fits your financial plan, conduct research on your own or ask a financial adviser for help. Once you do, set up an automatic withdrawal from your paycheck to ensure you’re putting some money away each month.

Find additional funding

If their savings aren’t enough, many families consider financial aid. The important part of taking out loans is for your child to have a plan to pay them back, which can be a struggle without proper consideration.

Grants and scholarships remain an option but beware that the current economy has restricted many of these funds and they are therefore becoming scarcer than in the past.

In the end, remember that you’re saving for a great cause, however expensive it is. By planning ahead, saving early and supplementing your savings with the variety of resources, your child’s education can be one of the richest investments you make.

For today’s teens, the time to plan for college expenses is now

| ara@queenscourier.com

(ARA) – When it comes to planning for college, most parents are sure of just two things: They want their child to get a college degree, and they’ll need a smart savings plan in place to ensure college expenses are covered.

For the 2009-2010 academic year, tuition, room and board at a private four-year college topped $32,000 per year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. In 1980, that figure was just $5,594 per year. And even though college expenses were significantly lower for previous generations, many report they are still burdened by lingering debt. In fact, a recent survey, released by TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation, found that among the parents of Generation Z (who range from ages 13 to 22), 58 percent say they took out student loans to fund their own college education, and, of those, 43 percent report they are still repaying those loans.

Considering their parents’ struggles with college debt, it comes as no surprise that Gen Z is eager to ensure they graduate with as little debt as possible. Among this group of young adults, 39 percent cited that paying for college was a top concern, while another 39 percent said they were also concerned about having a large student loan balance.

“Increased tuition costs and a bleak job outlook may be cause for concern for today’s young adults and their parents, but being proactive and coming up with a savings strategy early can help ease these financial anxieties and better prepare them for the future,” says Carrie Braxdale, managing director of investor services for TD Ameritrade, Inc., a broker-dealer subsidiary of TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation.

Braxdale recommends parents and young adults work together to start planning and saving for higher education as soon as possible.

“It’s never too early – or too late,” says Braxdale. “For example, a 529 college savings plan can be opened as soon as a child has a Social Security number, and contributions to that fund can be made every year until the child goes to college.”

The following tips are for families gearing up for college:

1. Calculate the costs

While a quick online search can give families an idea of college expenses, predicting future costs can be a bit more challenging. There are a number of free online resources available that can help parents and teens estimate how much they’ll need to save for college so they can get a solid plan in place.

2. Explore your savings options

Parents and teens should work together to research college savings options like 529 college savings plans, Coverdell Education Savings Accounts and custodial accounts. Once they decide on a plan that will work for them, the saving can begin.

3. Turn talk into action

Once a college savings plan is established, parents and teens should follow through on their planning and make a conscious effort to save. In many cases, regular contributions to savings plans can be made automatically, making the process easier to manage. Once saving has begun, you will have taken steps to pursue your higher education goals.