College planning is a complex process. It can be challenging, time-consuming, and extremely expensive. According to the CollegeBoard Advocacy & Policy Center the average cost of attending a four-year in-state public college including tuition and fees, and room and board is over $20,090 for the 2016-17 school year. The cost for attending a four-year in-state private college is now approximately $45,000. Even for the wealthiest families, it can be difficult to determine how to pay for college. It is a big investment, but fortunately there are strategies to both reduce the cost of college and save appropriately.
In our Total Wealth Planning for college planning, one of the five key components to college planning is Paying for College.
College funding involves many areas of your personal finance such as income, cash flow, taxes, and investing. It may also include merit aid and financial aid, grants and scholarships, as well as financing available through both private and government loans. More importantly, you as a parent must know how each of these areas affect one another for education funding purposes. Additionally, you must determine your financial commitment, set realistic savings expectations, and stick to a savings program.
Depending on your student’s age the strategy and vehicle used for saving may vary. Currently one of the best vehicles for college savings is the 529 college savings account. Depending on the state, there could be a tax deduction for contributions. Earnings are tax free when withdrawals are used for most college-related expenses, including tuition and fees along with room and board. Anyone can make contributions to the account adding the flexibility of others such as grandparents to contribute. Another advantage is that it can be used at any accredited school in the U.S. A great place to find information on the Ohio 529 Plan is www.collegeadvantage.com.
At Total Wealth Planning, as part of our comprehensive approach to financial planning, we work with families to determine the best strategies to pay for college by taking into consideration the family’s resources and options. Some strategies will reduce the overall cost more than others, and some strategies may involve nothing more than how a family should use their resources to pay for education. Our ultimate goal is to reduce the stress and anxiety of funding education for students and parents to have a successful college experience.
Are you wondering how to pay for college? For more information about the Total Wealth approach to college planning visit us at www.twpteam.com or contact Rob Lemmons at 513-984-6696.