By Diane Lochner
When you're buying mega-size packages of diapers, and baby food by the case, the idea of your kid being a college freshman might seem almost impossible to imagine. If you have kids, or are thinking about having kids, you might already be a little freaked out by the predictions about what sending your kids to college will cost you.
The College Board (the good people who brought you the SAT) says that college tuition increases at twice the rate of inflation. The College Board reports that for 2006-2007, a year's worth of tuition at a public four-year school averaged $5,836.
But, tuition isn't the only bill you have to pay - add in room, board, and fees, and the number jumps to $12,796. Four-year private schools average $22,218 for yearly tuition alone, and $30,367 when you add in the other costs. Multiply those figures by four, five, or six (depending on how many years it takes Junior to graduate) and those numbers look very intimidating.
I want to help my kids get a good education, but I also don't to work until I'm 80.
higher education, higher costs
Keep in mind that those costs are right here, right now. Twenty years from now, you can bet those dollar amounts will be a lot higher. If you've been car shopping, you know that you probably won't pay the price listed on the window sticker - and most students don't pay the full sticker cost of their education. According to the College Board, two-thirds of students receive some form of financial aid, and many others benefit from tax credits and deductions for tuition.
At our age, we've probably got a lot of bills, and still paying off our own education if we went the college route - so why put any thought into paying for children who may not even exist yet or are just learning their first steps?
Truly, it's not too early to think about it, especially if you do plan to have children one day. Saving for your kids' education is similar to your saving for your own retirement - it pays to plan ahead and start early. If you're like me, you don't want to have to choose between putting your kids through school or retiring on your own terms - I want to help my kids get a good education, but I also don't to work until I'm 80.
Financial aid, scholarships, and part-time jobs only go so far - and the government and schools consider parents to have the first responsibility for their children's education. Check out the college cost calculators and projectors at this site: finaid.org. What kind of college do you want to plan for - public or private? Would you prefer your child to start out at a local two year school? (Ignore for right now what your kids might want - we're just dealing in generalities here).