MoneyTalk: Saving for College

Show Notes
How soon should people start saving for their child’s college education?
  • If possible, as soon as their child is born! The more time you have to grow your savings, the better
  • You basically have an 18 to a  22-year window to save what you need for four years of college

Any amount of savings is better than none. Save what you can now and ramp it up over time 

Where are some good places for people to look for scholarships?
  • Look into scholarships offered by local service organizations such as Rotary clubs.
  • It’s a good idea to check back after scholarship deadlines and inquire about unclaimed funds.
  • You can also ask your employer, church, or union about scholarship opportunities!

Service members can transferal or some unused benefits to kids.

Would you or would you not recommend community college to cut costs?
  • Community college credits may be cheaper if you can transfer the credits earned to 4-year universities
  • This means your final degree will come from the more prestigious school AND you saved money

One study found that you may not get as much financial aid at a 4-year school if you transfer. Check this out first

How can people determine how much they can afford to spend on college?
  • Online calculators like http://apps.finra.org/Calcs/1/CollegeSavings (from FINRA) are helpful
  • A variety of college calculators can be found at https://www.finaid.org/calculators/ (FinAid)
  • Tracking cash flow for a few months can help you figure out how much you can spend on college out of pocket
  • A common guideline is not to borrow > first-year salary after college. This helps determines affordability.
What should military parents consider?

Allow for the use of military benefits in your planning process.

How can understanding the process of applying for college financial aid help families save money?
  • Knowing which investments count (or don’t count) as parental assets can help obtain more financial aid
  • Knowing whose name to put assets in (child or parent) also helps; less impact on aid in a parent’s name
  • Knowing the time frames used for financial aid decisions can impact investment transactions
Where can people get help?

Guidance counselors, college financial aid offices, www.finaid.org

How can families increase their resources to better afford college?
  • Encouraging your child to apply for on-campus jobs can help offset the cost of college
  • Students might also have skills like tutoring and app programming to freelance to earn income
  • Parents may have opportunities for freelancing and side jobs to earn money for college
Are there any resources for military kids?

Yes. Google College Scholarships for Military Children

When it comes to graduate school, how can students save money?
  • Don’t pay for graduate school! Apply for Teaching (TA) or Research (RA) Assistant slots
  • Many large universities provide free tuition stipends for TA & RA graduate students
  • RA and TA graduate students may also get stipends to cover living expenses
How did you pay for graduate school?

MS-RA and fellowship; Ph.D.-Scholarship and savings

What are the benefits of using a 529 plan to save for college?
  • Savings grows tax-free and qualified withdrawals (e.g., tuition) are federal tax-free
  • Some states provide state income tax benefits in addition to the federal income tax write-off
  • Donors keep control over the money. Kids can’t spend it on a fancy car instead of college.
 Are 529 plans where most parents save?

No. Actually, taxable accounts earmarked for college are the most common college savings vehicle, probably for reasons of simplicity and flexibility.