Nine tips to combat the college funding conundrum

Escalating tuition, room, board and text book costs combined with a challenging job market have led to a college funding conundrum for many middle class Americans. How do parents who are still paying off their own student loans set aside enough money to pay for their children to attend college? Are we setting up an educational system that encourages infinite debt? The exponential increase in costs associated with earning a higher degree certainly suggests that possibility. Consider recent Bureau of Labor statistics that say college textbook prices have risen over three times the rate of inflation from January 1977 to June 2015, a 1,041 percent increase. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average cost of tuition, room and board have risen from $3,877 in 1983 to $34,841 in 2014. As colleges and universities across the country scramble to come up with scholarship money to cover tuition costs that have risen, presumably due to an increasing need to provide scholarships because education prices have grown out of control, middle class Americans are left swirling in that ironic vortex. How, then, can parents today help students pay for a college education? With more than 30 years of experience in college funding, we offer these nine options: Invest in a college savings plan, but know that not all are created equally. It is possible, for instance, to max out your state 529 plan and still not have enough to cover the cost of in-state tuition. Talk to your financial advisor before you invest in any college savings plan to make sure it’s right for you. Set up a Roth IRA account for your student if he or she has wages or self-employment income reported to the IRS. Roths are not included as an asset when you fill out your FAFSA, so it won’t increase your expected family contribution. Apply for grants and scholarships. Take time to ferret out all of… | Read More »