Several years ago, I attended a first birthday party for a friend’s daughter. There were typical gifts of clothing, toys and stuffed bears; however, amongst the pile of presents, one unique gift stood out. A card from a grandparent containing paperwork for a 529 College Savings Plan*. The card read, “Whenever you can, birthdays, holidays, or at any other time, put some money in here as a gift and encourage others to do the same.”

My initial thought was it is kind of early to be thinking about college. Then, as I added up the costs of the gifts in front of me, my analytical side began to think what would $450 invested over 17 years be worth? I pulled out my mobile phone and went to my bank’s website to access a handy financial calculator to find the answer, $1,000.

Later that week I began thinking about my own child’s college savings. We have a kids savings account for birthday money; however, we did not have a plan for college.

With the help of Google, I did some research to learn more about the average cost of a college education. According to the College Board, the average cost in 2016 was $32,405 at private institutions, $9,410 for in-state colleges, and $23,893 for out-of-state students attending public universities. These figures do not include housing, meals, books or other expenses!

While I was conducting my research, I knew Independence Financial Advisors, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Franklin Savings, offered 529 College Plans, so I went to their website and found all kinds of great information on tax advantaged ways to save, financial aid, different college savings vehicles, as well as a handy Saving for College Calculator. The calculator lets you input the current cost of college, inflation rate (about 4%), how many years you have to save, how much you can deposit monthly, along with an estimated rate of return – all captured in an easy to understand chart.

college education savings chart

Utilizing this calculator to establish a goal was a real eye opener for me. Needless to say, procrastination can be costly! The difference in starting early and waiting may be the difference between graduating with a little student loan debt, a lot of debt, or somewhere in between.

So, take my advice – if you have children and have not given college savings a thought, make a plan now. If you are a parent or a grandparent of a young child, I am a true believer in that the greatest birthday gift you can give is a college education!

 

 

*A 529 Plan is an education savings plan operated by a state or educational institution designed to help families set aside funds for future college costs and has great tax benefits.

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Written by Dawn Beers

Dawn Beers

Dawn heads up our marketing department where she is responsible for the general oversight and management of the Bank’s marketing and public relations initiatives. This involves managing the planning, organizing and directing of our advertising, public relations, product development, sales promotion and research efforts.

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