Are You Saving For Your Child's College Education?
Are you worried about savings account rates and whether your investments are keeping up with your financial expectations? That perhaps your money isn't stretching far enough to fund some of your future financial goals? Well you're not alone. There is one financial goal in particular, that looms heavily upon those of us with children: increasing costs tied to the call of higher education and college.
Lately, the issue of higher tuition rates has occupied the news; we heard of the disruption that took place at U.C. Berkeley when regents announced rising fees in the horizon. It can't be helped really -- it's one of those things that will hold true just like death and taxes do: rising college costs have always been a rite of passage for all of us -- parents and kids alike! (Check out our College Financial Aid How-to Guide for ideas on how to deal with the rising cost of higher education.)
But I'd like to bring up the notion that perhaps not all parents are intending to save for their children's education. No, they've decided not to set up that Coverdell ESA with an online stock broker or mutual fund company. There may be various reasons why this is the case and it's something I'd like to explore a little; I'd also like to determine how some well-meaning families are coping with the pressures of paying for college.
7 Reasons Why Parents May Decide Not To Save For College
I am making these points mainly to elicit discussion. But do you know anyone who has decided not to save for college? And if so, why don't they? I thought about it a bit and came up with a few possible reasons (or "excuses"):
1. You feel that you don't have enough resources.
A common reason for not saving for college is that you just don't have enough money to fund competing financial goals. The rule of thumb here is that you should first fund your retirement accounts before you contribute to your child's 529 college savings plan. The reason? It's more important to ensure that you take care of your own future to avoid having others worry about you in your old age. Your kids can qualify for financial aid, but it will be tough for you to handle any shortfalls in your retirement years if you don't have the means or the savings to live on. Now if financial resources are the issue for you, you may be assured by the knowledge that there are easier ways to get others involved with your savings goals: perhaps an avenue like a 529 account or a free savings account like SmartyPig that allows others to help contribute to your goals may be helpful. It's something worth checking out.
2. Some kids are independent and make their own decisions.
I believe that not everyone is necessarily cut out to go to college. It's also often the case that people in the cusp of adulthood will feel that they aren't ready to enter college at a certain point in their lives. Of course, they may always change their minds later, and that's something that they can decide for themselves. Now there are kids that only need a little motivation to be able to make it through school. If you're a parent, you'll know whether your child is the type whom you should trust with this important decision; and based on how you gauge your child, some of you may realize that your child may not require you to cover 100% of their educational needs.
3. Some parents expect their kids to pay their way.
Maybe it's a lesson in life that they'd like to impart to their kids, but many parents make the conscious decision to have their kids pay their way through school. In the past, by cobbling together various financing resources such as college scholarships, financial aid, work and student loans, a student can make their way through college on their own. But in recent years, with college costs much more expensive, leaving the financial burden for college solely on your child may no longer be a reasonable option. Perhaps your children's efforts would probably be better spent attaining a full-time college education and then paying you back once they get a secure full-time job in their chosen career.
4. Kids of veterans may receive reimbursements of educational costs.
Children of veterans are entitled to have 70 percent of their college education reimbursed. However, parents must still pay for the first semester of college in full. Once the child attains a grade of C or better in all subjects, a designated percentage of the tuition is reimbursed. Parents can roll these reimbursements into paying for the next semester but still need to come up with the remaining money for their kids' education. Again, 529 programs such as the one offered by the College Advantage Ohio 529 Savings Plan may help you build up some of the savings needed to support your child. Veteran parents can save more on their children's schooling by remaining apprised of the latest programs available to them.
5. Certain families don't see the value of higher education.
Unfortunately, not all people find value in going to college. Those folks who are particularly entrepreneurial by nature may think that their kids may be better off getting the experience from the school of hard knocks, say by working in the family business. They may value life experiences above those that can be obtained from a structured, academic environment. In this case, it's all about the family's values.
6. Some parents have lowered expectations.
If a child is not doing that well in primary school, his or her parents may end up having lower expectations of the child. Without noticing the potential, some parents may become discouraged about helping their kids pursue a higher education. It's sad, but could they be unwilling to take the risk of investing in their child's education? I believe that no matter what, we shouldn't give up on our kids as surprising transformations can happen in people.
7. There's the belief that what's good for the parent is also good for the chld.
There are some parents who didn't finish college or never attended college, and because of their own experiences, they may not feel compelled to have their kids acquire an education on their dime. But fortunately, there are many parents who don't think this way, despite the fact that they've never made it into the hallowed halls of academia. There are many parents who value college highly and look upon it as the holy grail for the next generation; therefore, they do what they can to encourage their children to get a degree. These are the stories that should inspire us to think about how we can push forward to better ourselves and the plight of the youths in our lives.
Having the opportunity to attend college is priceless and even when resources are low, there may be ways to save up for this important phase in your child's life. If there's a will, there's a way.