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My 6-year-old just graduated from Kindergarten. His teacher asked the students to complete the sentence, “My favorite part of Kindergarten is…” as their graduation speeches. My son wrote:
My favorite part of Kindergarten is… Kumpootr bkus it is smart stuf.
I was so proud! I can’t wait to show him the video of that speech when he’s graduating from high school.
Did you just watch your Kindergartener graduate too? Here’s a great idea: Watch them grow in a class graduation shirt—snap a picture now, and again when they graduate in high school for a great before and after!
It might be hard to imagine them ever fitting into that adult size shirt, but it will come faster than you can imagine. So will college expenses. Don’t let them sneak up on you. Kindergarten graduation is not too early to begin planning for college—it’s the perfect time! Plan for college expenses at these two important times:
If you begin early, you can effectively spread the cost of a college education out over the next 12 years, and save a lot as well. Here are two great options to look into:
1. Prepaid plans.
Each state offers prepaid college plans where you can lock in today’s rates at state colleges and universities by making affordable monthly payments calculated to be completed by the time your child graduates from high school. In some states these plans can be extended to include books, fees and housing. In many cases, if you start a prepaid plan around the time of Kindergarten graduation, your monthly payment plan can be less than $100 a month!
2. 529 savings plans.
Each state offers 529 plans with significant tax advantages for saving for education related expenses including tuition, books, and dormitory costs. These plans work by investing your contributions in mutual funds, and other investment options, to grow your savings over time. These plans are flexible, allowing you to contribute an amount that’s affordable for you and can be used at state or private schools.
High School Graduation
The next important time to plan for college expenses is a year or two before your child’s high school graduation. If you’ve started your planning as early as Kindergarten graduation you’ll be in good shape already. Here are some important options to look into:
It’s important to start early if you are going to try to use scholarships to help fund your child’s college education. Scholarships are based on things like GPA, community service, and memberships (of the child or parent) to various organizations. Help your child build a well-rounded high school portfolio that includes good grades, community service, and demonstrates leadership to help their scholarship applications rise to the top of the stack. Also, look for scholarships your child might qualify for based your military service, employment or memberships.
2. Financial Aid.
Financial aid comes in many forms including grants, scholarships, and loans. The process starts by completing a FAFSA application and submitting financial information to colleges. Using this information the college will complete a financial aid package, which will likely include multiple sources of funding. For example, your child will probably qualify for federal student loans, and may also be awarded grant or scholarship money from the college. In most cases, these financial aid packages include a “parent contribution.” This is where a 529 savings plan can be very helpful. However, if you do not have savings or income to cover the parent contribution, don’t panic. Consider private loans for school to cover the expenses.
By graduating from Kindergarten, your child just passed their first education milestone, but there are more to come so start planning now!