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Saving for Your Child’s Education: Start Now

The time to start saving for your child’s education is right now! Because college is expensive and the earlier you start, the more you’ll have. Private college tuition, room and board at four-year programs averaged more than $40,000 per year in 2013-14 and even state schools saw prices rise to more than $18,000 during the same time period.*

If you’re wondering how you’ll ever afford to pay for your child’s future education, you’ve already started on the right path. Just thinking about it is the first step to saving! First, you have to have a plan. Then, consider these 5 steps to start saving for your child’s education today.

Take care of your own bills first. Before you can begin saving for your child’s education, you have to be on your own solid financial footing. It won’t do you or your child’s education any good if you’re behind on your bills or ruining your credit by making late payments. Take care of your finances first, then your child’s.

Make saving a part of your monthly budget. Even if you can only afford a few dollars a week, start saving whatever you can and giving education its own savings account. Consider small areas you might trim from your monthly budget and add that to the savings. Do you go out for coffee? Make it at home. Do you buy your lunch at school or work? Start brown-bagging it. Then, add that savings to your child’s education fund.

Check out 529 plans.** A 529 plan is a college education savings plan run by states or educational institutions that allows you to save and earn interest for your child’s education. The plans have many advantages over simple bank accounts including higher interest rates and tax advantages. You can even choose a 529 plan outside of your own state if you like it better.

Have your child contribute. As soon as your child has their first job, consider teaching them the importance of long-term savings. Tell them to divide their pay check into three parts: immediate need, short-term savings and long-term savings. College is a worthwhile and long-term goal that they should be part of!

Get college credit for high school classes. When your child gets to high school, there will be opportunities to start earning college credit and saving money. Advanced placement courses and their corresponding tests allow your child to “test out” of college courses, saving you the cost of that course. The College Level Examination Program CLEP also allows your student to earn college credit and its results are accepted at 2,900 colleges and universities.

It’s never too early to begin saving for your child’s education and planning for a great future. If you want to change your future for the better, why not start with your own education? At Charter College, we offer programs in business, criminal justice, health care, hospitality, information technology, paralegal studies and the trades. Make your education a part of your—and your child’s—financial future. Learn more by visiting our website today.

*http://trends.collegeboard.org/sites/default/files/college-pricing-2013-full-report.pdf

**http://www.sec.gov/investor/pubs/intro529.htm