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The Tuition Maze: Charting an Effective Course

Harnessing the power of money requires early planning. Starting now will pay off when your children are ready.

As parents, we look forward to the day that our child gets accepted to the college of his or her choice. Unfortunately for many parents, the joy of their child's college acceptance is overshadowed by the financial anxieties. The good news is that there are a surprising number of options available to help parents deal with spiraling costs. From scholarships and financial aid to special savings plans and low-cost loans, there are plenty of ways to make the college experience less of a financial burden.

Investing in the Future

When it comes to assessing the practical value of a college education, there's no arguing with the basic stats: workers with a bachelor's degree earn 62% more than those without.[1] That's why, for most parents, obtaining a college education for their children is virtually an article of faith, something we take for granted as a necessary ingredient for a stable, successful life. 

Strategic Planning is the Key

While it's true that the cost of college can be truly daunting — some top schools are charging upwards of $40,000 a year — it's also true that many families are finding ways to ease the financial burden. So, what steps can you take to make the whole process as easy and as painless as possible?Here are some surprising answers:

 ● Improve your credit score. Establishing good credit can help you secure the low-cost loans you may need — and save thousands of dollars.

 ● Plan for the unexpected. Estate planning and the right kinds of insurance will help protect against the derailment of your child's college plans. 

 ● Save smart and early. Gain a significant advantage and maximize your resources by choosing the college-savings plan that’s right for you.

The bottom line: college is a major investment in your child’s future. And, like any investment, it is wise to do as much early preparation and research as possible. It may also be advantageous to enlist the support of an experienced professional who can advise you based on the specifics of your situation. 

[1] Franzblau, Michael (2007). Tuition Without Tears. Los Angeles: Convergence Media Group.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Babu Rudeboy September 10, 2011 at 11:19 AM
Yawn. Another waste of bandwidth puff piece. Tell us something we don't know.
Ron Greenfield September 13, 2011 at 02:15 PM
I'm glad that you're familiar with all of these points. It's surprising how many people are not fully aware of even some of the basics of saving for higher education and/or continuing adult education. Even though you think this is basic, professionals like you and I are not the target audience. What are some of the tips you've found most helpful to college savers with whom you've met?
Sharon Maroldi September 13, 2011 at 06:54 PM
I think it's a valid reminder, as a parent with a toddler and a baby. My husband and I do have these plans set up and did it from the day the kids were born. Any gift over $25 goes there-under that mark, it goes into their individual savings accounts. My parents paid for me me to go to college, my husband paid his own way. We share the belief that ideally we would like to pay for our kids to go to college. There are a lot of other ways people can spend money, like having someone clean their house, mow their lawn, get their nails done, etc., but I'd rather forego most of that to drop the money into my kids' accounts, since college is so important. And, the earlier you start, the more time you can let your money do its own thing & grow. If saving money isn't a relevant issue, then the economy and housing market must have improved since I last looked (30 seconds ago).

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