Are Parents Reaching Too High In College Savings Goals?

The average U.S. family might want to aim for funding an average of 25 to 33 percent of their childrens’ post-secondary education rather than shooting for full funding according to Financial Advisor’s Asia Martin.

The typical American family needs to set this more realistic goal.

“It’s not how much should we be saving; it’s how much we can save,” said Matthew Toner, SavingforCollege.com’s lead analyst.

Families can try to fill the remaining “college savings gap” through current income, scholarships, other investments and loans, said Toner.

“Calculate your expected family contribution: the lower this number, the higher chances you have of receiving some need-based financial aid,” said Toner. He also suggested that families check for schools with generous financial aid packages that include more grants than loans.

Toner also recommended that high-net-worth clients with an annual income of $250,000 or more may want to try to save 70 percent of the future net cost.

For a private four-year school, families should expect college cost (including room and board) to amount to a sticker price of about  $355,000 in 18 years. If parents work toward 25 percent funding with a 529 plan that returns 6 percent annually, with payments starting at the child’s birth and ending at his or her 18th birthday, they would need to contribute $250 per month to reach the savings goal, according to the website.

Four-year public schools have a smaller sticker price of about $157,000 and would require monthly payments of $111 to cover 25 percent of the cost, according to the report.

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