20 Second Advisor: Are you planning on putting your child through college?

According to recent data published by the College Board, the annual cost of attending college in the US in 2017–2018 averaged $20,770 at public schools, plus an additional $15,650 if one is attending from out of state. At private schools, tuition and fees averaged $46,950.

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Here are some quick tips as you start thinking about saving for college costs:

  1. Consider a tax free savings vehicle, such as a 529 account
  2. If funds within a 529 account are not used for qualified education expenses, there is a penalty. Therefore, avoid over funding the 529 and coupling the 529 savings strategy with another type of investment account that gives you more flexibility with the money
  3. Start saving early
  4. Invest in funds with low expense ratios
  5. Consider your state sponsored 529 plan first for possible tax advantages; if your state’s plan is not sufficient, then consider another state sponsored 529 plan
  6. The time frame for saving for college is compressed (only about 15-20 years).  Therefore, it is important to shift from riskier assets (ie stocks) to safer assets (ie bonds) as the child gets older
  7. Starting in 2018, 529 plans can be used to pay for tuition at private elementary and high schools.

 

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