While nearly all parents agree that college is an investment for their children, only one-third have a plan to save money for college, according to Sallie Mae’s “How America Saves for College 2013” study. With the ever-increasing cost of attending a four-year college, it’s easy to see how parents might feel overwhelmed by the idea of saving enough for their child’s college fund.
Saving money for college, however, doesn’t have to be akin to moving mountains. Ideally, parents should begin saving for their child’s college fund at an early age, whether it’s a savings account, 529 college savings plan or another savings method. But parents need not feel pressure to be the sole contributors to their child’s college fund. Following are some creative ways to help parents grow their child’s college fund.
- Funnel birthday or holiday money to savings account. Aside from making your own regular contributions, dedicate all or a percentage (such as 50 percent) of birthday or holiday gift money to the college fund. This extra cash inflow can help raise a significant amount of money for college throughout the course of 18 years.
- Create your own fundraiser. Once your child reaches school age, it’s only a matter of time before he or she is required to sell chocolate or novelty items for a school fundraiser. Why not start your own fundraiser and have all the proceeds go directly into your child’s college fund? Together with your child, hold an annual yard sale, bake sale or perhaps you can run a lemonade stand each summer. This allows you to create memorable traditions all the while raising money for college.
- Match your teenager’s contributions. Once your child is old enough to hold a part-time job in high school, make an arrangement to match the funds they contribute to their own college fund. This will surely motivate them to work hard to see their money for college grow even faster.
As the cost of attending college continues to grow, it’s almost unrealistic to save enough money for college to cover the entire cost of a four-year education – especially if you have more than one child. Remember that your child will have other options to pay for tuition, such as student loans. If you’re able to save for one-third of your child’s college education, there’s no doubt your child will be off to a good start.