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Saving for College

Question: Though it is years away, college tuition bills will be coming in. What is the best way to start a college fund for my son? - Adele Kranz
Answer from Phillip Rodgers, Director of Financial Aid, Portland State University
It’s great to be thinking ahead. As a parent, there are a few things you can do to prepare for your child’s future. Look into college saving plans that lock in tuition rates. With these programs, you would pay today’s tuition price, not the inflated tuition price when your kid gets to college. Some state schools’ tuition programs are tax deferred. They are definitely worth looking into.
Scholarships and grants are other good options for planning for the future. There is a lot of unused money out there that people are not taking advantage of. Talk to local high schools for good leads. Start early and you will be more informed and better prepared.


Learn How to Prepare for Your Child’s Future Education


Saving for your child’s college tuition is very important. There are several options available that can be started at any time.
First, start saving money! You can do this before you decide on a specific plan. Open a savings account and put money aside as often as possible. For some, that’s once a month. For others, it’s whenever you get extra cash.
Types of Savings Accounts and Plans
There are a variety of savings accounts and plans available, including and not limited to:
    1. 529 Prepaid Tuition Accounts: You put money into these accounts to cover the current cost of state tuition (either in a lump sum or a monthly payment plan). When your child is of college age, the account is used to pay their tuition. If your child decides to go to a college or university out of state, the program pays the comparable amount.
    2. 529 Savings Account: This is like any other savings account, with the interest rate being comparable to current stock interest rates/returns. There are good tax advantages to these kinds of accounts.
    3. CDs (Certificate of Deposits): These are similar to saving accounts. You buy the CD, and it grows on a variable interest rate.
Each family has different needs, it's important to talk to your bank, financial planner, or institution you choose to save with. Contributions may be state-tax deductible. Thirty-four states and the District of Columbia allow you to deduct some or all of your contributions. Rules vary, so check with your state for more details.
In addition to savings accounts, there are other ways to help you pay for college: 
  1. FASFA: The year before your student heads off to college, you can fill this out for grants as well as for government and private loans. For most students, the amount awarded is based on the parents’ income. Even if you do not think your student will be awarded anything, it is worth going through the process.
  2. Grants: Grants can be awarded through FASFA, but there are also private grants that you can find from surfing the Internet and talking to financial aid counselors at your student’s college or high school. There are thousands of dollars each year in unused grants.
  3. Scholarships: It can also be tedious to fill out scholarship applications and write the essays. However, the end results could really pay off. Scholarships can be found online, as well as through your high school or college. Many banks and other businesses offer scholarships to deserving students, so ask around. 


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Thank you, gwane! Great tip!


College year is the most expensive stage in studying that is why many parents are having a educational plan for their children. One of the best things to do for your children is to start your child's college fund as early as possible, and there are several ways to go about it, unless you WANT them to navigate the murky waters of financial aid – and the payments they'll practically need payday loans to keep up with. You can start a 529 plan, which is essentially like an IRA, where you invest the money and the dividends keep adding up – and there are several tax breaks you can get for doing so. Each state has their own rules governing 529 and similar plans, so do your homework first.