(September 6, 2023) - It’s September - National College Savings Month! While the word ‘college’ is in the title, it’s really about much more than that. It is when we officially recognize the importance of saving for post-high school education and training, including trade schools, technical training, and apprenticeships. Let’s face it. The cost of college and other career-readiness training is high and getting more so each year. National College Savings Month is a great reminder for families to put money away for their student’s future education expenses. Starting early, contributing what you are comfortable with, and forming regular habits like automatic deposits are the keys to reducing the inevitable college sticker shock.
When you first see the total estimated cost of college in the future, you might feel overwhelmed and nervous. Remember that you’re not required to save all the money at once. Most families use a combination of financing options for their student’s education including savings, scholarships, and loans.
Remind yourself of two things when feeling anxious about paying for future education: #1, a dollar saved now is a dollar you or your student won’t have to borrow (with interest) later, and #2, it takes a village. Encourage grandparents, aunts, uncles, other family, and friends to get involved. At gift-giving time, a contribution to the student’s education savings is a gift that truly keeps on giving.
Getting your children involved early in the saving process can also help tremendously. Teaching them financial habits such as budgeting, saving, and responsible spending early can pay off (no student loan pun intended) as they get older and reach adulthood. Have conversations with your student(s) as they get older about what they might want to study, where they might want to attend, and what type of career they might be able to have.
Did you know children are more likely to attend college if they know they have a savings account in their name? One of the best ways to save for their future education is with a 529 account from Washington College Savings Plans (WA529). With 529 plans, all earnings and withdrawals are tax-free when used for qualified higher education expenses. Your family has options with two WA529 plans: the Guaranteed Education Tuition Program (GET) and the DreamAhead College Investment Plan. Your student can use one or both plans to attend most public and private colleges, universities, and technical schools practically anywhere in the world. Don’t borrow your children’s future. Build it. To learn more or open your account visit 529.wa.gov.