Find out the best game-plan to save for your kids’ college years. College savings plan; how prepared are you?

Posted on: July 31, 2014

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Hello Wedlock Gisters,

As parents, there are so many aspects of our kids’ lives that we have to plan ahead for, starting as early as when they are in the womb.  We consider what colors will the nursery be and who will be their caregiver if you are a working mom.  Even things as seemingly insignificant as scheduling the next play-date for your child (ren) can take up a bit and become a hassle if not planned ahead of time. Click here for some tips on how couples can talk about money matters posted a few weeks ago.

But, as the title suggests, the post today will focus on whether or not we as parents are prepared for the skyrocketing prices of college tuition for our precious kids and if we are not, what can we do now to get ready for when that day comes?!

For us that day is fast approaching as our son is in middle school (7th grade) and he understands the whole gist of ‘saving for college’ and is asking questions about what to do to get ‘scholarships’ etc.  Funny story is that our 7 year-old daughter who is usually involved in these conversations as well, has begun to respond with “I’m saving for college”, anytime we ask her to use her own piggy bank money to buy yet another one of her requested toys. Lol.

We certainly took the advice of financial ‘experts’ when they were younger  but it becomes more and more real as they get older.  And the ever increasing college tuition doesn’t help either!

That said, we wanted to share a portion of one of the best articles about “planning to pay for college” retrieved from Readers’ Digest by Lisa Goff below , which gives parents very useful step by step tips for each phase of your child’s life in preparation for college. Hope this is helpful!

 

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The Best Advice for Planning to Pay for College by Lisa Goff retrieved from Readers’ Digest (Click the link for the full article).

Birth Through Seventh Grade 
Parents

  • Invest $50 a month in a college fund. Which kind of fund you choose matters less than saving regularly, perhaps through an automatic payroll deduction. In 18 years, a fund that earns 6 percent a year will be worth about $20,000. And that much per child, along with $20,000 in student loans and some belt-tightening while your children are in college (about $5,000 per year, roughly what you already pay to feed, clothe, and shelter one teenager), should be enough to pay the average four-year $60,000 tab, says certified financial planner Kevin McKinley.
  • Rumors circulate about families who scored big financial aid awards by saving nothing at all. But that’s just another alligator in the subway. Your income, not your savings, will matter most to financial aid advisers as they decide how much aid to give you.
  • Some credit cards reward college savings. Upromise, the largest administrator of 529 plans, deposits 1 to 10 percent of purchases made with its World MasterCard directly into your Upromise account (upromise.com). You then transfer the funds into any of its 529 plans (529.com). Friends and family can also sign up to have their purchases credited to your child’s account.

Eighth Through Tenth Grades 
Parents

  •  With five or fewer years left on the clock, now is the time to think about prepaid 529 tuition plans, which promise to lock in today’s tuition prices for tomorrow’s college student. If you want the peace of mind of knowing exactly what your child’s tuition will cost, or if you don’t have any college savings—and 38 percent of families don’t—a prepaid plan might be a good choice. You will incur penalties for early withdrawals in some states—as high as $300. Scrutinize your state’s fees at collegesavings.org. For students interested in attending a private university, the Independent 529 Plan (independent529plan.org) is good at about 300 private, mostly small liberal arts colleges.
  • If you have more than one child, experts say, individual 529 savings accounts are a better choice than one account for all, as long as maintenance fees don’t multiply. Many plans will waive fees if you sign up for direct deposit. With individual accounts, money saved for younger siblings typically won’t count against the firstborn when his college calculates need-based financial aid. If one child hits the scholarship jackpot and ends up not needing her 529 savings, you can usually change the name of the beneficiary or transfer funds tax-free to another child’s plan.
  • If you opted for mutual funds, remember to fine-tune them annually for less risk as your child gets older—fewer stocks, more bonds—so that you are less likely to lose money. Age-based 529 plans do this automatically, but some are better at it than others: Ohio College Advantage and Virginia Education Savings Trust, to name a few. Check your fund’s performance on the list of best and worst 529s published each spring by Morningstar, the independent mutual fund research firm (click on the Funds tab at morningstar.com).

Willing Grandparents

  • Your storied past may be the key to scholarship money for your grandchildren. Create a “grandparent résumé” that includes the places you’ve worked, the names of clubs you’ve belonged to, and your ethnic and racial heritage going back several generations. Share it with your grandchildren—a rewarding exercise in itself. Offer to help them search for matches at scholarships.com and fastweb.com.
  • Your military service is a source of pride; it can also be a font of scholarships. The American Legion (legion.org), the Veterans of Foreign Wars (vfw.org), and Vietnam Veterans of America (vva.org) all sponsor scholarships for grandchildren of veterans.

Students

  • Children as young as 13 can start applying for college scholarships. Sponsors range from the Library of Congress to the American Licorice Company and reward skills as diverse as building model rockets and making peanut butter sandwiches. Wacky, but the money is real enough. FinAid has a comprehensive list and links to scholarship websites (finaid.org/scholarships).
  • Students should sign up for AP (Advanced Placement) and classes that offer college credit. Making the grade in four such classes can wipe out a semester’s worth of college requirements, a savings of roughly $7,000 in tuition and living expenses at a state school. Plus, high AP scores increase your chances of getting merit or non-need-based aid from colleges.
  • Get a job. Students can earn up to $3,000 without losing any financial aid. Lawn mowing and pet sitting add up over the years.

11th Through 12th Grades

Parents

  • Be blunt with your child about spending limits. Insist that he apply to at least two safety schools that you can afford with minimal borrowing.
  • No savings? The Federal Parent PLUS Loan program lends parents the balance of costs minus any financial aid. You’ll pay 3 to 4 percent of the loan amount in fees and around 8.5 percent interest (it’s slightly lower if you borrow directly from the government at direct.ed.gov, but ask if the college participates in the direct loan program).
  • Federal Pell Grants, which do not have to be repaid (ed.gov), offer a maximum of $5,350 per child, based on need. Most families that qualify earn less than $50,000. If your income is significantly higher but you have more than one child in college, you may still make the cut.
  • Save money on college visits by taking virtual tours on college websites or at unigo.com.
  • Sign up for a tuition payment plan that lets you pay monthly rather than in two lump sums a year.

Students

  • Make a final scholarship sweep at finaid.org/scholarships. Find scholarships for racial minorities at collegescholarships.org; there’s even a category for “White Male.”
  • Military schools provide a free world-class education (gov.com/agency/dod/ college.html). The ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) program provides scholarships and living expenses (goarmy.com/rotc). Both require a military service commitment.
  • Seven “work colleges,” including Berea College in Kentucky and Warren Wilson College in North Carolina, either waive tuition or offer it at a reduced cost in return for labor (workcolleges.org).

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 This article is definitely book-mark worthy for sure!  Any other college-savings tips or links that you may have to share will be greatly appreciated!  Thanks for your continued support on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

Take Care,

WedlockGist

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