Saving for College
Ten Questions to Ask Yourself About College Savings
- What do you worry about more—saving for retirement or saving for your kids' college education? (Jean's take: As rational adults, we understand from a dollars-and-cents perspective that we should save for retirement first. But as parents, we aren't quite comfortable with it—it's our responsibility to take care of our kids and give them a good start in life. Just imagine how you'll feel if your kids have to bail you out in your old age because you didn't put enough away for retirement.)
- If you added up how much you spend on vacations and eating out, would it amount to more than you save for college? If it does, can you make some changes?
- If you attended college, how did you pay for it?
- What responsibility do you think your child has for paying for college? (Jean's take: When you are just starting the college application process, it's key to sit down with your kids and talk about how much you have to contribute toward college and how much will have to come from aid. Explain to them the difference between the cost of public and private schools—and what that will mean to them when they graduate and have to start repaying loans. Your children are not too young to think rationally about what sort of a stress loans will be on them in the future. They may surprise you with their choice of a less expensive school.)
- Do you worry about your child starting out in life with student loan debt?
- Are you expecting your child to qualify for special scholarships? (Jean's take: Be realistic. Only 1 percent of students receive athletic scholarships. While your child may have lots of wonderful talents, don't bank on them to pay the college bills. As for other scholarships, yes they are available, but your child needs to approach searching and then applying for them like a quest for the Holy Grail.)
- How comfortable do you feel about talking to your child about who is paying for college and what his or her role should be? (Jean's take: Again, as early as their freshman year of high school, talk to your children about whether paying for college will fall on your shoulders, theirs, or a combination of both. A lot of kids cruise through high school assuming there's a magic check somewhere that will cover their education.)
- If you've started saving for college, what type of accounts are you using?
- If you haven't started saving yet, what's the best way for you to get motivated?
- Who do you think can help you pay for college (grandparents, godparents, etc.) or help you make the most of the money you are saving for tuition (financial planner, trusted friend, etc.)?
Please note: This is general information and is not intended to be legal advice. You should consult with your own financial advisor before making any major financial decisions, including investments or changes to your portfolio, and a qualified legal professional before executing any legal documents or taking any legal action. Harpo Productions, Inc., OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, Discovery Communications LLC and their affiliated companies and entities are not responsible for any losses, damages or claims that may result from your financial or legal decisions.