Saving for college is no easy feat even for just one child. Paying for more than one college education simultaneously can really break the bank. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average annual cost for college tuition, room and board for a student at a four-year public college was more than $14,000 during the 2011 – 2012 school year. By the year 2030 that number could balloon to more than $40,000 per year. How can a parent afford for more than one child to attend college at the same time?
Here are some solutions to help families of any size send their kids to college:
Because putting multiple children through college can be expensive at a four-year university, you could send your kids straight to a two-year college near home. By doing so, you’ll save more than half on tuition alone, not to mention room and board if your kids can live at home during that time. Later, each child could transfer to an in-state public university to complete his or her degree.
Technology colleges should not be overlooked. Some four-year technology colleges have annual tuition costs that are sometimes amazingly lower than at universities. A technology college can prepare your child for work in a profession where there is job demand, while at the same time offering many liberal arts courses.
Tax Credits and Deductions
If you pay for any part of your child’s tuition or other qualified education expenses out-of-pocket, you could qualify for tax breaks. For 2013, two tax credits are available – the Lifetime Learning Credit and the American Opportunity Credit, worth up to $2,000 and $2,500. Although only one credit may be claimed per child, per year, you may be able to claim both credits if you have more than one child in college. Ask your tax accountant if you are eligible to claim either or both credits.
Tax-Sheltered Savings Accounts
Some education savings accounts offer tax savings when distributions are used only for qualified educational expenses. By stashing your child’s college savings in a Coverdell account, Roth IRA or 529 Plan, for example, you can invest the money and pay zero taxes on the growth.
College Savings Plans
Part of the challenge of saving for college is knowing how much to set aside, and then diligently saving it. With the Gerber Life College Plan1, for example, you can make fixed monthly payments that can go toward your child’s college education – or anything else. This will allow your child the flexibility to pursue his or her dreams, and you to use your money in any way you’d like.
The Gerber Life College Plan is the only save-for-college plan that has an adult life insurance benefit, which continues throughout the duration of the policy.
Both public and private sources offer financial aid for students. Encourage your children to apply for scholarships from private organizations, as well as from their colleges of choice. Also, keep in mind that Federal student aid is awarded based not only on your income and assets but also on your household size and the number of people you are supporting through college.
Two out of every three college students qualify for financial aid. The U.S. Department of Education uses an algorithm to determine expected family contribution (EFC). Having multiple tuition bills lowers EFC significantly, making college more affordable with multiple students.
When every other possible option has been exhausted, student loans can pick up the slack in each of your children’s tuition balances. Federal student loans have comparatively low interest rates and flexible repayment terms. That means your children could go to college without having to begin repaying their loans until after graduation.
1 Policy Form ICC09-PIE
Policy Form Series PIE-09