Getting ready for college involves preparing your child for big changes in his or her life. But as a parent, you’ll need to make preparations as well based on whether your child plans to attend college in-state or out-of-state.
Attending College In-State
If your child attends an in-state public college, you may receive a special in-state rate on the standard tuition price that out-of-state students pay. If you know without a doubt that your child will be attending college in-state, you may be able to save for his or her education via a state-sponsored pre-paid tuition plan. States that offer pre-paid tuition allow you to “lock-in” the price of college by purchasing credits at today’s rates. Those credits can then be used to pay for tuition in the future, regardless of how much tuition rates may have risen.
Attending College Out-of-State
Planning for an out-of-state college is much like planning for an in-state college, except with more complications and higher expenses. Moving hundreds of miles away presents additional problems for both students and to parents who are already struggling to afford tuition.
If possible, begin preparing for out-of-state college expenses by contacting the financial advisors at the college as early as possible. Many public and private universities offer financial assistance to out-of-state students. You should also plan to visit the school with your child before making a final decision and applying. This is an opportunity for both you and your child to see campus life. Your college-bound student may even find a future roommate while you’re there.
Whether your child attends school in or out-of-state, plan well in advance for tuition bills by estimating how much financial aid you may be eligible to receive. The U.S. Department of Education offers the FAFSA4caster to help families approximate their financial aid eligibility. The results of this tool, combined with the estimated tuition of your child’s in-state or out-of-state school, should give you an estimate of how much you should save for college.
Starting a College Plan
To assure that you set aside the adequate amount of money each month, it’s a good idea to have a plan. This helps you to routinely save a pre-determined amount each month and it prevents you from using that money toward other things.
The Gerber Life College Plan1, for example, is an endowment policy with an adult whole life insurance benefit that allows you to make fixed, payments each month. The cash value of the policy can grow over time, and the policy doesn’t fluctuate with economic conditions. At the end of the policy term, you can use the guaranteed cash payout you’ll receive for your child’s college expenses or for anything else.
1 Policy Form ICC09-PIE
Policy Form Series PIE-09