Contributed by: Melissa Parkins
If you have school-aged kids, what will a college education cost by the time they get there? According to J.P. Morgan Asset Management, if the cost of college continues to increase 5% each year, the cost will be more than double what it is today by 2032. Colleges are spending more to attract students, hiring more to reduce student-to-faculty ratios, and receiving less financial support from the states. Add these factors up and costs go up too. And with the rapidly increasing costs, we hear people asking more and more, “Is a college education worth it anymore?” The short answer is: Yes! The value of a college education is growing faster than the cost to attend. A college diploma opens the door to career opportunities, increased earnings potential, and job security.
Where do you Start Saving for College Costs?
Wondering how to begin saving for this huge financial goal? Well, you have to start somewhere, and it’s never too early. By starting to save early, you can take advantage of not only potential investment returns, but the power of compounding. Choosing the right savings plan and investment mix can help you maximize growth potential and also help on taxes (and who doesn’t want to reduce taxes?!). You may not make the goal of saving enough to cover all the costs, but check out this chart to compare the investment in college savings vs. taking out loans:
What are my College Savings Plan Choices?
There are many ways to set aside money for college expenses. Some families use traditional savings accounts while others use tax-advantaged accounts, like 529 plans. These give you the opportunity to grow your contributions faster than using a taxable investment account earning the same exact returns. Not only can you withdraw money for qualified expenses tax free, but many 529 plans offer state tax deductions as well. This chart illustrates the impact of investing in a tax efficient way for college:
What about other Ways to Pay for College?
Perhaps you’re hoping to rely on financial aid, grants, or scholarships? Remember, not all aid is free and not everyone qualifies. According to www.finaid.com, only 0.3% of college students receive enough grants and scholarships to cover all costs. And loans? Well, it costs more to borrow and pay interest than to save and earn interest. Not to mention the burden it causes not only to the student, but their family as well.
Need help getting started on saving for college costs? We can work with you to find a plan that fits your family. Also, look for details to come out soon for our September webinar on Ways to Raise Money Smart Kids.
Melissa Parkins is a Registered Client Service Associate at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.
This material is being provided for information purposes only and is not a complete description, nor is it a recommendation. Any opinions are those of Center for Financial Planning, Inc. and not necessarily those of Raymond James. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but Raymond James does not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Investing involves risk and investors may incur a profit or a loss.
Investors should carefully consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses associated with 529 plans before investing. This and other information about 529 plans is available in the issuer's official statement and should be read carefully before investing. Investors should consult a tax advisor about any state tax consequences of an investment in a 529 plan.
As with other investments, there are generally fees and expenses associated with participation in a 529 plan. There is also a risk that these plans may lose money or not perform well enough to cover college costs as anticipated. Most states offer their own 529 programs, which may provide advantages and benefits exclusively for their residents. The tax implications can vary significantly from state to state. Links are being provided for information purposes only. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse, authorize or sponsor any of the listed websites or their respective sponsors. Raymond James is not responsible for the content of any website or the collection or use of information regarding any website's users and/or members.