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Saving Early for University 

Jan 02, 2018
As reported by ConnectWithKids.com, saving early and being realistic are the keys to preparing for college tuition.

“Parents know they need to save for college, but they don’t take the steps to do it - they think they have plenty of time and they don’t. They need to go ahead and start [saving] as soon as possible,” says Tracy Ireland, Vice President, Financial Aid Operations, Georgia Student Finance Commission.

University tuition: it ranks second, next to a home, in the list of big ticket expenses that parents pay for. Yet many parents - in fact, the majority of parents - are in the dark about how much it’s really going to cost.

“[My parents] didn’t put money aside for me to go to college, because they thought, you know, since I was a good student in school, like my whole school career or whatever, that I was going to get scholarships,” says Tiffany Peck. Tiffany received some financial aid, but it didn’t cover everything. And Tiffany is not alone. According to a study by financial planning firm, AllianceBernstein, 92 percent of parents overestimate the amount of scholarship money their children will receive.

“The reality of it is that, even if a child does get a scholarship, it’s not likely to cover the full cost of attendance,” explains Ireland. Experts say the first step for parents is to be realistic about how much college will cost.

“Parents know today what it costs; but what it will cost in 15 years can be a staggering number,” says Ireland. “For example, a public institution may cost $12,000 a year today - but in 15 or 16 years, it could be well into 30 thousand or 40 thousand dollars a year.”

Next, he says, start saving early. “Save something - you don’t have to necessarily save for the full cost at the beginning. Begin saving and you can increase it over time. Even $50 a month into a savings account or a college savings account can grow into a sizeable sum by the time the student’s ready.”

Tiffany is now a sophomore, paying for college with a student loan. She wishes her parents had been able to save even just a little.“Even if it was just like a couple of thousand dollars, it would have helped out a lot,” she says, “because going to school here isn’t that expensive - but still it would’ve helped. I wouldn’t be in the situation I am now, taking out loans.”

Tips for Parents

Trying to save money for college or university?

ConnectWithKids.com recommends:
When students enter high school, 91 out of every 100 say they plan to go to college. But by the time the students are 19 years old, 30 of every 100 who entered ninth grade have fallen behind or dropped out - and only 38 of the 70 who earned high school diplomas enroll in college.

Despite the media hype about rising college costs, a college education is more affordable than most people think – especially when you consider that college graduates earn an average of one million dollars more over their careers than do high school graduates. The average yearly cost of a four-year public school in 2006-2007 was just $5,836.

There are some expensive schools, but high tuition is not a requirement for a good education. ( University Board)Experts recommend deferring cost considerations until late in the college-selection process. Most important is finding a school that meets your child’s academic, career and personal needs. In fact, you might have a better chance of receiving aid from a private school. Private colleges often offer more financial aid to attract students from every income level. Higher college expenses also mean a better chance of demonstrating financial need.

Tuition is not the only cost that needs to be calculated into the cost of college. Tuition and fees represent only a fraction of the total cost of attending college. When living costs and other education-related expenses are considered, tuition and fees constitute 67 percent of the total budget for full-time students enrolled in four-year private colleges and universities. There are many resources on the Internet for parents to find information about college costs and available aid – including Fast Web, University Board and the U.S. Department of Education.