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Conversation Sooner Is Better Than Later
College is a major cost. But with the right approach, and the right questions, you can make the best choices for your family.
It’s no secret that college costs have risen rapidly in the last decade, but just how much may surprise you. Between the ‘08-‘09 and the ‘18-19’ school years, the average cost of a year’s tuition at private colleges grew from $38,720 to $48,510.[MB1] Public colleges are cheaper, but still expensive at $21,370, up from $16,460 in the ’08-’09 school year.
While those numbers may be daunting, what’s more daunting is how much college will cost when your kids are ready to attend. And it’s especially intimidating for families with multiple children. But having the right conversations and setting the right expectations can help the whole family make the best choices when it comes to college. Here are the college conversations to have each year of your child’s life.
When They’re an Infant to Preschooler – Ages 0-5
These are college conversations to have with your spouse or partner. Every dollar you can save early will be worth more by the time the child is ready to enter college. So, a good question is, how much can you save? As such, these conversations will take into account other aspects of your financial plan. It’s also a time to get grandparents or other family members involved, perhaps by requesting college-fund contributions in lieu of birthday gifts.
When They’re a School-Aged Child – 6-12
These are also conversations with your spouse. Each year, check in on your college savings fund. How is it doing? What does the cost of college look like? Can you save more? Answering these questions, and finding new ways to save, can help you continue to make the right choices.
When They’re an Early to Mid-Teen – 13-16
Now’s the time to start to talk to your kids. You don’t need to tell them how much you’ve saved, but you should introduce the subject of college, how expensive it is, and how important it is for their future careers.
These conversations are an occasion to illustrate the value of saving money for the future. And while it may be too soon to for a child to understand their interests and strengths, or to have a vision for their future, it’s a chance to start them thinking about what they might want from their education and their eventual career.
These conversations are also a time to explain the importance of doing well in school, and making the most of their talents in extracurricular activities, to have better options and possible scholarships
When They’re About to Leave Home –16-18
These are the serious, cards-on-the-table conversations with your child. By this age, you’ll have a clear idea of how much you have saved for college, and how much you can afford to pay out of pocket for tuition each year. You’ll also have a better idea of the kinds of school your child will get into and want to attend, as well as any scholarships they might be eligible for.
In these conversations, you should be frank about what you can afford, and the amount of student loans the child may have to take out, depending on which school they choose. That means explaining to your child how long it will take to pay off those loans once they start work.
These conversations are also a time to lay out how much a child will have to earn per month to cover their expenses at one school versus another, and how they will impact their academic and social experience of college.
When They’re in College –18+
You probably had a plan for how much you could afford to spend on tuition, housing, books and other expenses each semester. But sometimes even the best-planned budget doesn’t work out the way it should.
These conversations with your child are a good time to see how your college budget is aligning with your savings. And depending on how the plan is going, it may be time to consider changes to how much parents are contributing, how much a child is taking out in loans, or how much of a commitment the child has to make to their part-time work.
No matter what you’re saving for, you want your money to grow effortlessly. With above-average yields, straightforward and convenient online access and friendly, knowledgeable representatives, Barclays is ready to help you save.