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Old 04-17-2013, 08:58 PM   #1
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Average college savings for children

Just curious as to what everyone's average college savings is for their children. How do you go about saving for it. We do bright start (although, we just started). By the time my oldest is college age I figured he would only have about ten grand. By that time (8 years from now) that will prob barely cover a year. I am not opposed to him having some college loans (as I do), but what is everyone's typical savings like. I have three boys and have so far figured only about 10 grand for each by the time each is college aged.
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Old 04-17-2013, 09:27 PM   #2
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I don't have any advice for how to save or how much to save. I do have current information on tuition. We are touring colleges with our HS junior this year. A state school, tuition-only, is about $10,000 per year (east coast, in state). The private schools that we've visited, with room and board, are in the $40,000-55,000 range. That's for 2013.
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Old 04-17-2013, 09:29 PM   #3
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It's frightening to think of what college is going to cost by the time my DD gets there. I've recently started using UPromise and a Upromise Mastercard and am surprised by how much I'm accruing in her 529 plan, just by shopping online. I'm getting 10% back on my purchases so every little bit helps. Just thought I'd throw that idea out there.
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Old 04-17-2013, 09:31 PM   #4
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Oldest DS is a Junior in HS but I've been cursed with bad luck in my jobs in recent years. Just started back to work after being laid off for 18 months during which period we used all our savings. While I'm back to work I also took a $30K/yr paycut so no way to put that money back in savings. OTH as I was despairing about what to do I found out that my kids have also been blessed with some very very generous and amazing grandparents - they just informed us that they bought the UPlan for my kids. For Oldest DS the amount they invested was 90% of the tuition at several state schools so even though it's been 10 years and tuition has increased significantly he has 90% tuition paid at these schools when he starts in a year and a half. It's a great program and something to look into if you think your children might be interested in a state school. He'll still have to look for scholarships and take loans to cover room and board and books but at least 50% of his costs will be paid for
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Old 04-17-2013, 09:47 PM   #5
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Since we were paying about 18K year on our mortgage(including the extra 500 we were putting down on our principle each month to pay off early,) we knew paying that off would free up about 18K a year so we did our best and got it paid off the Spring before our oldest started college.

Meanwhile, I was a SAHM and we planned for my income earning potential to cover the rest. When I went back to work part time, we continued to live mostly on one income and I bought pre-paid college units for the kids. We bought two years for each child, which will cover tuition during the overlap years when they are both in school. We're not made of money, we just made buying those units and paying down the mortgage a priority over lots of other things.

It's still stressful at times because my work is sporadic and the whole sequester thing with DH, but our plan has been working very well for us. Our oldest is finishing his second year and we haven't touched his pre-paid account yet. We'll start using that for tuition when both are in next year. His school costs about 25K a year, but is less because he got some small scholarships and works to cover some of his own expenses. He also did a lot of AP and will graduate early, leaving some of his pre-paid units for his brother to use as tuition continues to rise.

We were pretty specific with our kids that we can afford x dollars and we'll only allow them to take minimal loans or they'll lose our support. They knew that options over that amount had to come with scholarships attached to bring it down to that range. Since our budget was about what it costs to go in-state, both ended up with a range of choices to pick from that fell in their budget. (Many privates try to match that range, knowing their competition.)

For us, the fear of it was scarier than the reality and having a concrete plan really helped. You don't have to have the whole thing covered up front. You'll be able to cover some of it as you go. You'll be amazed at the difference even the lower food bill if they're out of the house, the tax break, etc. can make towards covering some of the expenses.
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Last edited by disykat; 04-18-2013 at 12:20 AM.
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Old 04-17-2013, 09:56 PM   #6
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I'm atypical - my two kids are in 7th and 8th grade, Right now they each have $160k set aside.

How we did it - I worked, my husband worked - both in fairly well paying jobs. And we underspent.
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Old 04-17-2013, 10:27 PM   #7
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We have some savings for the kids but I know it isn't nearly enough. I fully expect, based on existing cost inflation rates and the plans my kids have in mind, to need $25K or so for DS15 and around $175K for DD11. And no, we're not on track to have those amounts put aside. I'm not even trying to guess at what college costs will be like for DD4. I can't imagine the current trajectory can hold that long, but if it did we'd be looking at right around $275K for an in-state undergrad degree but I have to think by that point so many people will be priced out that something will have to give with regard to tuition increases.

How do we do it? We save what we can and plan to figure out the specifics when it is a more immediate concern with more concrete numbers to work with. I'm sure we'll cash-flow quite a bit, and as my girls move out of their private school (private K-8 but they'll attend a public HS) the money we are currently spending on tuition will simply go into their college accounts instead. And I expect there will be some tough discussions to be had about cost-benefit calculations, affordable schools vs dream schools, and other practical factors because I very strongly discourage my kids from taking on anything more than nominal amounts of student loan debt but I'm sure the temptation to borrow for the "perfect" college experience will still be there.
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Old 04-17-2013, 10:32 PM   #8
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Due to divorce, I was dirt poor when I should have been saving for their college. My approach now is to work more hours in a higher paying job and use that difference for college tuition. (not the sole reason for the switch, but I am leaving the education field for a while to work in private industry--higher rate of pay, and year round work)
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Old 04-17-2013, 10:55 PM   #9
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Also, have your child target one of these schools as a dream school. The rating is based upon non loan based financial aid.

(me) (dh) ds (18) ds (13) ds (11)
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Old 04-18-2013, 08:05 AM   #10
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We have 3 kids and there is no way we could fund all their college. Our family plan has always been for them to take post secondary/AP classes in high school to get some "free" college credit. My oldest is a jr and is doing this her senior year. I'm not sure she'll have quite a year done of college but pretty close. Then it's off to community college 10 miles down the road. My DH and I saved enough for each kid to pay 2 years tuition there. Then it's off to the main campus and we expect our kids to be able to fund at least 1 year on their own with working and then have to make up the rest with hopefully subsidized stafford loans. I'm hopefully they'll get out of school for less than a car note, then continue to live at home and pay those off before they go out on their own. That's our plan so far. We know we don't have the money for any other choices so there's no college visits for us unless one of them would get a full ride somewhere, doubtful on that.
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Old 04-18-2013, 08:25 AM   #11
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We live in a city with any college choices around so we will provide room and board for our son. Everything else is on him. Of course he is (and will continue to be) my parents only grandchild so he has 10s of thousands already in saving for him and he's only 4. He's not going to be having any trouble affording college. I am going to encourage him to work as a teen and start saving as well and of course work during college. His daddy has 2 BA degrees and graduated both times with no debt and paid his own way for all of it.
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Old 04-18-2013, 08:33 AM   #12
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We will pay whatever the current in state 4 year tuition is plus books and supplies if they live at home. If they choose to live away, they need to cover room and board. If they choose a more expensive school, they will need to cover the difference. We figure we will pay somewhere around $7K per year per child is what we will be able to cover.

Right now we are looking into the College Promise program for our kids. They can go to CC the first two years and have it count as their last 2 years of high school and their first two years of college. I don't know that it will work out, but that option is free if they are still in high school. Some people don't like the program for various reasons, but it may suit our children. We need to look into it more.


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Old 04-18-2013, 08:42 AM   #13
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My kids are 4 years apart.

One Grandma gave both my kids $1,000 each on their birthday and $1,000 each for Christmas for college (until they turned 18)
Other Grandma passed away and we put her $25,000 life insurance money in the college fund. We put in $5,000 a year.

By the time the oldest hit college we had $200,000. $1,000 each month came out of our pay checks, and we ended up borrowing an additional $45,000. Oldest burned thru $200,000, youngest has burned thru $50,000 so far.

I cannot emphasis how important it is to save money for college from the day they are born.
Our combined gross income has never been over $100,000 a year. Just a matter of priorites. No smart phones, no big screen TV's, our family car will be 26 years old in October (purchased right after our oldest was born).
For some of our friends, parents night out was a $200 night out with dinner and drinks, for us it was an $18 dinner at Denny's and a bottle of Two Buck Chuck when we got home. But now that my kids are adults, they have made it clear they appreciate what we have done and plan to do the same for their kids. DW and I figured if we took care of them now, they will take care of us when we are in a nursing home.
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Old 04-18-2013, 08:44 AM   #14
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We started 529 plans for our two kids sometime when they were in elementary school. Unfortunately the downturn in 2008 really did in our accounts. It took nearly three years to get back to the amount we had actually put in ourselves. At that time it was getting close to our son entering college, so we barely made any extra on our money by the time he started. Where we thought we'd have close to the four years, we've only ended up with two and a half years worth of college expenses for him. And now it looks like he's on a five year plan. Our DD starts school next year and her account's not much better. Our kids are both going to state schools.
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Old 04-18-2013, 09:13 AM   #15
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My DH is a saver. He started saving for the kids education, the day they were born. My oldest DD just graduated from U of M in December. She has no loans. Two things that helped her were AP credits and scholarship money. She went in with 30 credits and over the three and a half years, she finished early, had about $20,000 in academic scholarship money over that time. We were able to pay the remaining tuition out of pocket, again my DH planned ahead. My DD never had to use the money my DH put into the earmerked education fund. She received that money upon graduation. DD number two is a high school sophmore. Now, my DH has 529 plans too. Hopefully, she will be able to get some type of althletic scholarship money and we can pay her tuition out of pocket for her as well. As a side note, some of the best colleges for financial aid are highly selective schools.
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