Financing a college education is not as simple as it may seem. There are, in fact, myriad savings plans and strategies which vary based on financial priorities and trade-offs. Are you thinking public or private school? How about choosing between a four-year or two-year college?
As with any large expenditure, following a few basic tenets will help you plan properly.
Create a Budget
Start by getting your current financial picture under control by developing a livable budget. This will help you determine how much you can save right now and allow you to project what will be required over time.
Payoff Existing Debt
Get rid of as many monetary encumbrances as possible; especially credit card debt.
One of the best ways to take care of these first two steps is by using free online financial management tools specifically designed for that purpose. SettleiTsoft®, now in Beta Release, is a great example of the latest technology that will help you address both budgeting and debt negotiation and settlement.
Accessible via the Internet or Mobile App, SettleiTsoft provides easy-to-use tools with step-by- step instructions and topic-specific videos in every section, which make budget creation simple. Convenient charts and graphs help you track your progress 24/7.
In addition, the software platform replaces traditional methods of debt negotiation with an interactive and transparent debt settlement process that gives consumers complete control of negotiations as to the terms of their debt settlements and creditor payment agreements. Consumers and their creditors are able to communicate in a secure virtual environment without ever actually speaking with each other.
Another really cool feature: the system has the capability of validating that the creditor is indeed authorized to collect the debt; thereby eliminating scammers who falsely claim the right to collect the consumer’s debt, as well as others who cannot produce the paperwork necessary to prove ownership of the debt.
A Simple Savings Formula
Financial experts recommend using a consistent savings strategy to help you set manageable goals. Here’s a simple, catchall formula to figure out how much you should save. Multiply your child’s age by $2,000 to get a rough estimate of how much you should have saved at that point.
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. You can use for costs related to education, including tuition, books and room and board. It is named after Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code which created these types of savings plans in 1996.
State Plans Are OK for Out of State Colleges
529 Plans can be used to meet costs of qualified colleges nationwide. In most plans, your choice of school is not affected by the state your 529 savings plan is from. For example, you can be a CA resident, invest in a VT plan and send your student to college in NC. Check to see if your institution is eligible under 529 rules.
What to Do if You Haven’t Saved at All
Circumstances can make it difficult to save for college, but you should know that you are not alone. Even without savings, paying for college can still be attainable. Loans, financial aid packages, merit awards and gap years can all be effective strategies to offset the high cost of higher education. Keep in mind: High school guidance counselors and college financial aid offices are often good sources of information and assistance.
To learn more about SettleiTsoft and its powerful financial management tools, intuitive free debt settlement software platform, and how it may help anyone plan and execute a college savings plan, please visit www.settleitsoft.com.