By Luanne Lee, Your College Planning Coach
For most parents, there are few things that rival the anxiety associated with wondering how they are going to pay for their children’s education. This stress is often compounded by the fact that most parents have little to no comprehension of what a college education will cost and procrastinate on saving for college.
Here are steps that can help parents better prepare and, as a result, lessen stress:
- Evaluate your personal financial situation and clearly spell out your financial goals. Before you build a paying- for-college plan, it is imperative to know the resources you have to work with.
- Calculate the projected costs of college for all children in your family. Most parents need this reality check because they greatly underestimate both the current cost and the rate of inflation, as well as the number of years that it will take their children to complete their degree.
- Draft a paying-for-college plan. Financial market volatility and escalating college costs have translated into the need for a much more formalized plan. Understand that there are many factors and educate yourself about your options. Possible components of your plan: College selection, financial aid, merit-based aid, modest student loans, athletic aid and parental contributions. Put your plan in writing, where it can be tweaked and modified as needed.
- Start saving! While each individual situation varies, these guidelines provide a good rule of thumb. If you begin saving when your child is born, put aside $200 per month. This monthly amount increases exponentially the later you start saving: $350 per month for a first-grader,
$450 per month for a fifth-grader and so on. If you wait until your child is in high school, you’re probably looking at saving $1,000 per month. Paying for college does not have to be so stressful. Planning now is the remedy.
Luanne Lee, CCPS, Your College Planning Coach, specializes in late-stage college planning. She coaches parents and students on financial aid and college selection. Lee can be reached at 703-928-9036 or through her website,
www.yourcollegeplanningcoach.com. She’s also on Facebook