According to Dave Ramsey’s book, 68% of people have nothing or nearly nothing saved for their children’s college education. As a result, they probably think one of two things, “he’ll just have to get loans and scholarships” or “we’ll figure out how to pay for it when that time comes.” But why assume that something will come up to save you? You should start working to prepare for this situation as early as possible, preferably when the child is born.
Even if your child is halfway to college you can still do some good by saving money. The vehicle for that savings will differ based on his age. When they’re babies you can put that money into aggressive mutual funds through ESAs and 529 plans. As they get older that money should be shifted to safer investments like bonds. If you start really late then you may as well just put it in a CD with a guaranteed return, if even a small one.
Just the ability to have something put away so you can tell your child, “yes, we have some money set aside to help you with college” is a great thing. Imagine the look in your child’s eyes when you tell them you have nothing and he can’t afford to go to college at all. Do your best not to consign him to either a life of huge loan payments or a future flipping hamburger because he couldn’t go at all.
This is a serious issue and not one that can be put off. It seems like they’ll be children forever but in the truth, that time passes quickly and before you know it you’re looking at ACT tests and college applications. Those start happening in their junior year of high school, which is just a decade after they start Kindergarten.
We’re not talking about 45 years of retirement savings to build up, we’re talking about a quick blip of time. If you don’t make this a priority you, them or both could be saddled with even more debt. It’s time to break the cycle.
My college was paid for by my parents who had some saved up. I also got academic scholarships, but it wasn’t enough to cover everything. My husband had several student loans to cover, but not as many as there could have been since his parents also contributed.
As a result, we had a relatively small debt to repay and we weren’t saddled with it for the rest of our lives. Our parents gave us a significant boost by helping us pay for our education. I advise you to do that same.