It's never too early to start planning how to pay for college. Some parents open 529 plans when children are born. Others put away a little bit each month. Even if you haven't done these things, there's no need to panic. Just as it's never too early to start, neither is it too late. There are many things you can do to get ready for paying for college. In fact, that's just what this site is all about.
Start the process as early as possible. It's never too early to start, but it's good to remember it's also never too late.
A 2007 survey by First Marblehead revealed that less than one in five families (18 percent) had saved more than $25,000 in total for college by the time students had entered their freshman year. That statistic is startling when considering the average cost of tuition and fees at a private, four-year college is over $25,143* per year, excluding room and board. Start family discussions about how to pay for college, such as a 529 plan, as soon as you begin to talk about academic and career goals.
Even with recent increases in the federal funding for higher education, the amount of federal funding has not kept up with the rate of tuition increases. The current gap between what the government offers and what college actually costs is now estimated to be approximately $138 billion.**
That's why it's even more important than ever to start early and become a smart borrower!
*The College Board Trends in College Pricing 2008.
** The College Board Trends in Student Aid 2008. U.S. Department of Education.