The best way to start saving for your child’s college education

When you consider the rising cost of a college education, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. The College Board reports the average annual cost of tuition and fees can range from just over $9,000 annually for in-state residents at public universities to more than $31,000 per year at private colleges. And it’s taking students longer to graduate – six years on average, according to the U.S. Department of Education. That’s a lot of money which doesn’t even include housing, food and transportation.

Here’s the good news – it’s never too late or too early to starting saving for college. As you begin saving for your child’s college education, here are some tips worth considering:

Ask yourself how much you can realistically contribute

It’s a delicate balance and a difficult question. What parent doesn’t want to provide their child with the very best education at a top college? The reality is, most can’t afford it. The average graduate student leaves school with nearly $30,000 in student debt, a sum that will reduce their future retirement savings by more than $300,000, according to a projection by insurance and financial research group Limra. In a separate T. Rowe Price study, nearly a third of parents admitted they’ve made the risky choice of tapping their 401(k) plan to pay for their kids’ college.

Remember, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. There can and should be middle ground that creates a solid future for parents and for their college bound kids. Some things to consider:

  • Working students can help offset expenses and increase their chances of securing employment upon graduation. According to a survey from Bentley University, nearly three-quarters of hiring managers complain that millennials aren’t prepared for the job market and lack an adequate “work ethic.” Requiring your student to work in a part-time capacity will help them gain real-world experience that will go a long way in helping them get off to a fast start post-graduation.

  • Consider a local university. The cost of living expenses associated with going away to school are significant and not all students have the maturity needed to venture far away from home.

  • Joining the military or starting at a community college before transferring to a four-year school are also options worth considering.

 

With a realistic budget in mind, here are some smart ways to start saving:

  • Open a Travis Credit Union Coverdell Education Savings Account (CESA). Maximize your savings with tax-deferred earnings and enjoy distributions that are typically tax-free. Withdrawals may be used for K-12 expenses as well as for college. You can apply these savings to pay for tuition, fees, books, supplies, equipment and more.

  • Find money you didn’t know you had. If you have a car payment or mortgage, you may be able to refinance and reduce your monthly payment with a lower rate. Create an automatic deposit into your tax deferred college account. You won’t miss the money and you’ll be amazed at what you have over an extended period of time.

  • Apply for scholarships. Competition for large awards can be daunting. Smaller awards often have fewer applicants. Your chances of earning a scholarship may be increased by applying for multiple awards in the $1,000 to $2,000 range. Start with awards that are offered locally. TCU annually awards $1,500 each to twenty (20) high school seniors who are members and accepted into college for the fall of their graduation year. View our 2017 Mary Keith Duff scholarship recipients and remember to apply when your student is in their senior year of high school.

 

The best way to start saving … is to start saving!

Contact Travis Financial Services (TFS) today and find out how you can open a Coverdell Education Savings Account. Call (800) 877-8328, visit www.traviscu.org or stop by any local branch.

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