When your child is born, your first thought centers around how much you love them. What doesn’t come to mind? Their college fund. Many parents are overwhelmed by the fact that they are just that: parents. They think of their child going to college as a distant milestone. The cost of college can cause difficulty and stress for a lot of families. Thankfully, we decided to invest early in our children’s future.
Two things saved our family from having to borrow money for college — Florida Prepaid College Plans, and scholarships. Starting prepaid plans early keeps the cost manageable and will ease the burden of debt from your children’s future. You can’t know everything about the future, but you can plan for parts of it.
If you live in Florida, open enrollment for Florida Prepaid has begun. Current monthly payments for a 4-year college degree are only about $130 a month for a newborn. Most families have cell phone plans more expensive than that. Here are three steps you can take to invest in your child and their future education.
What you can do:
1. Analyze Your Resources Now — Determine what you are able to do to provide education for each of your children. A great tool to help with your analysis is the college cost calculator at the bottom of this page.
2. Research Available Options — Explore plans available in your state to help you accomplish your educational goals. We took advantage of the Florida Prepaid Plan. The states that have prepaid savings plans are Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.
3. Familiarize Yourself with State Scholarships — Knowing the requirements your child will need to meet long before they enter high school will ensure that they don’t fall behind and can benefit. This state listing will get you started.
When our oldest went to the University of Florida, we had Florida Prepaid and she qualified for Florida Bright Futures. The school would apply her Bright Futures Scholarship first, then Florida Prepaid would kick in. The net resulted in a $781 surplus. We received a check back for that amount and applied it to her housing. It was great. When our second child chose to go out of state, we still benefited from Florida Prepaid! We applied what we had saved in the Prepaid Plan to her housing and other expenses.
Bottom line: Being a parent means having to handle multiple unexpected obstacles. Paying for college shouldn’t be one of them. Share your thoughts below.