Parenting: Planning ahead to pay for college

September 10, 2012 8:11:59 AM PDT
Whenever I get a chance to speak to an expectant mom or dad, I always tell them about my belief that saving for a child's college should begin right after conception.

Yes, it is easier said than done.

Starting a family is one of the most difficult times to save. There are a million things you need right away. It is hard to place something that won't happen for another 18 years ahead of buying a new crib, getting paint for the baby's room, purchasing new outfits, fixing the leaky toilet, etc.

Fidelity gives us a snapshot of just how well parents are doing when it comes to saving for higher education. As you can imagine, not everyone is doing so well - at least when it comes to reaching their goals.

The financial company conducted its sixth annual College Savings Indicator survey. It found that less than a third of parents are truly thinking about their child's future college plans, and how they are going to pay for it.

Fidelity also says most parents hope to cover about 57 percent of the cost of college but only 30 percent are on track to ever get there.

At the same time, 78 percent of families say they want their children to avoid the crushing blow of heavy student loan debt. They just can't find a way to put their money where their intentions are.

I'm sure there are a variety of reasons for this, economic uncertainty being among the top. Here is another aggravating factor: Fidelity says college costs continue to rise faster than inflation, at about five percent a year.

There are more facts and figures from this Fidelity study, including how much a 2012 grad makes on average. Check out the study here as well as advice on how to save.

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