(September 14,2021) When I was young, back to school time meant Mom created checklists. Keeping track of things like supplies, clothes, lunches, after school care, field trips, sports schedules and equipment was nearly a full-time job with three boys. Creating a plan and doing our best were themes my family used in everything we did, especially planning for college.
My parents always let us know they saved “what they could, when they could.” We learned the greatest advantage you have is starting early and contributing often. Compound interest, automatic transfers, extended family member contributions and setting goals are your greatest assets. Many decisions must be made, such as: will you save for one year or more? Will your student attend University versus Community College? Room and board must also be considered as well as supplies like computers and books. Each answer you settle on can drastically change college expenses and plans. As with any journey, after creating your plan you can map out the best route to get there. If things change you will be better prepared to adjust.
The truth is many high school students and families greatly underestimate the cost of college. According to a Fidelity report, one in four parents of high school students believe one year of college will cost $5,000 or less, while in fact the average annual cost of a public in-state education is actually about double that amount. Nearly two thirds of students and their families report ‘sticker shock’ over loan balances which makes saving even more important.
Next time you find yourself reminding your student about their homework and preparing for what lies ahead, remind yourself as well. It's easier to DreamAhead when you plan ahead.
By Vince Meyer