February 9, 2017
– By Young Boozer, Opinion Contributor
Young Boozer is the 39th state treasurer of Alabama and chairman of the College Savings Plans Network.
As a father, I understand the coveted gift all parents dream of giving their children: debtless college educations. However, I also understand how short-term financial necessities and unexpected extras can often overshadow long-term saving goals. From diapers to daycare and family vacations to holiday presents, it’s often tempting to put college savings on the back burner. But the truth is, “college savings procrastination” can be quite dangerous.
According to the College Board, the average cost for tuition and fees at four-year public institutions has increased 225 percent over the last 30 years (after adjusting for inflation). These costs will almost certainly continue to rise. Furthermore, student financial aid expert Mark Kantrowitz recently calculated that students in the class of 2016 graduated with a record-breaking average of $37,172 in college-related debt. Fortunately, these striking statistics can be combatted by saving.
Saving for higher education can set your child on the road to a secure future. The earlier you start, the more time you can grow your savings. For example, if you set aside $50 a month between your child’s birth and 18th birthday, you can accrue over $21,000 in a 529 college savings account that returns 7 percent interest per year. Spreading out your savings in smaller increments from the start will save you from heavy hits to your finances in the future….