Financial Advisor Jude Offiah Offers Expert Tips on Financial Planning for Your Child’s College Education.
Deciding to have children is a major familial and financial decision. This is a time in your life when you may feel burdened by financial responsibilities, such as paying off mortgages, saving for retirement, or even paying down your own student loan debt. However, for many parents, paying for a child’s education, or even simply creating a substantial college fund, is a major financial priority as well. Financial advisor Jude Offiah recently offered her expert tips on planning financially for your child’s college education.
“It seems selfish to many parents, but financial planners typically recommend prioritizing your own retirement savings over college savings,” Jude Offiah said. “However, this tactic is actually in the child’s best interest as well. There may be additional funding options for your child’s college, but if you don’t have a retirement fund, your options will be much more limited.”
Jude Offiah explained that, when possible, the best option is to balance college savings and retirement savings. She suggested funding your 401(k) substantially enough to receive a full employer match. Additionally, Jude Offiah recommends saving towards college in a fund that’s more beneficial than a traditional bank savings account. Education IRAs and 529 plans offer alternative approaches to saving for college that grow tax-free.
“An essential part of saving for college is discussing a strategy with your kids once they near high school age,” Jude Offiah said. “This is an important way to teach young adults about the cost of college, the act of saving, and how much you can contribute.”
Jude Offiah explained that parents shouldn’t feel an obligation to pay for every aspect of their child’s higher education. There are numerous financial aid options available as well as scholarships for kids who perform well academically or in sports. These scholarships, as well as those offered by community groups, can be productive goals for young people to achieve.
“Too many times, parents take on a major burden of paying 100-percent for a child’s college degree,” Jude Offiah said. “It’s okay to plan on paying a portion and supplementing the rest with financial aid or scholarships.”
Jude Offiah added that another route some parents and their children may want to consider is attending an affordable community college before transferring to a larger private or public university. This can be an ideal way for a student to pay drastically less, achieve a high GPA, and eventually graduate from the college of their dreams.
“Overall, we want parents to understand that their retirement fund is a top priority for the overall wellbeing of the family,” Jude Offiah said. “Retirement savings, separate college savings through a 529 Plan, and a combination of financial aid options can result in a less financially-burdened life and an excellent college education for your child.”
Jude Offiah recommended speaking with a qualified financial advisor on the retirement and college savings plans that are best for your family.