to the class of 2025...
If you went to college, another option is to look into whether your alma mater has any tuition breaks for children of alumni. The state university I went to has a program that would let my kids attend for 150% of whatever the in-state tuition rate is at the time they start school. That could be a big savings to me down the road, especially if my family can't take advantage of tuition reciprocity agreements between neighboring states. (Assuming, of course, that my kid wanted to go to the same school Mom did!)
state savings programs
A relatively new type of college savings plan is called a 529 - it's named for the Section 529 of the US tax code (the IRS people sure are creative, aren't they?). You can get certain tax advantages by participating in your state's college savings plan - either a prepaid tuition program or a savings plan. Generally speaking, you, as the parent, are not the only one who can contribute to the savings plan - this is a great way for grandparents or friends to give a gift that keeps on giving. Visit collegesavings.org for more in-depth information on state savings programs and find the details for your state.
Want to know more about student aid programs? Check out studentaid.ed.gov.
direct and indirect costs
When you start adding up these numbers, and thinking about how much tuition will cost in 20 years, don't forget that tuition is just a part of the picture... even if it is the biggest part.
Keep in mind the fees that schools add on for things like activities, technology, or building funds. You do want your kid to have a warm bed and warm meal, right?
Room and board, if your child won't be living at home, can add up quickly, too. Books, computers, phone bills, transportation costs to and from school, and of course some spending money to keep the good times rolling, should also be a part of your calculations.