Where does the time go? All of a sudden, the playground phase is past and your child (children) are getting serious about college. If you are lucky, you will have started preparing while they were still small, but it’s never too late to take steps that hopefully will see them through higher education without an unmanageable amount of debt.
Share these tips with your college-bound kids:
Start savings accounts that will give a better return than regular savings. If you don’t have a large amount of cash to begin, open a term deposit account with whatever you can afford. Many financial institutions offer perks such as low (as little as $5) initial deposits; allow you to continue making deposits through the term; set the term from 12 months to five years.
If your child has money from gifts or from early jobs, teach him or her wise money habits, putting a set percentage of personal money into savings. The best gift you can give your child as he or she sets out to undertake adult activities is to arm them with sound financial management skills.
Encourage high school students to work hard, taking high school concurrent enrollment and Advanced Placement courses that will minimize the number of college courses they will need to get a degree. Advise that they look at scholarship opportunities and maintain the grades needed to take advantage of them.
The Internal Revenue Service has authorized two types of education plans: prepaid tuition and college savings. Paying tuition ahead of time avoids the increases that are tacked onto tuitions nearly every year. You can purchase credits at current prices for attending in-state colleges and universities. (Helping the student to make a choice of a higher education institution well ahead of time can ease the issues at enrollment time.)
College savings plans, money set aside in investment accounts, can cover tuition, fees and room and board. Make a careful study of these “529 plans” and get an early start on savings.
Bottom line: Start your planning as far ahead of high school graduation as feasible. If possible, be as specific as you can about your higher education goals so you don’t waste time by too-frequent course adjustments.