How Much Should You Sock Away for College?

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So you want your kid to go to college.

Well, there’s just no sugar-coating the fact that college is expensive. Like pretty much every parent out there, you’re probably wondering just how much you need to save to pay for your child’s education.

Every parent’s situation is different. Maybe you only want to pay for half of your child’s education. Maybe Junior hasn’t reached his first birthday but you’ve already started saving … or maybe your child is in middle school and you’re ready to start saving now. Maybe you only have so much room in your budget and want to know what is possible.

No matter what your situation, we’ve got a calculator that can tell you exactly how much to put away per month in order meet your college savings goal. Or the reverse, how much you can afford to pay for if you only have a certain amount to put away.

First, put in your child’s age. Then, the calculator lets you play with different scenarios:

  • How much does the ideal college currently cost? We’ve accounted for rising college costs, so you’ll be saving for the amount that college is expected to cost when your child enters, not what it costs now.
  • How old will your child be? Most kids start college at 18, but perhaps you think yours should postpone entering for a year off to work and save up.
  • How many years will your child attend college? It’s not all four-year options. Two-year colleges abound.
  • How much will you pay for? Will you pay for everything, or meet your child halfway?
  • How much do you currently have saved? If you’ve already started saving, put that number in here.
  • How much will the price of college go up? We’ve assumed 6% a year. From 2010-2011, tuition and fees rose an average of 7.9% at four-year public universities, and 4.5% at private colleges. To see recent tuition costs for a particular school, search at The National Center for Education Statistics.
  • How much will you earn on the college savings plan each year after tax? The actual return will depend on how your college savings vehicle performs and the amount of taxes you will owe on gains. As your child nears the end of high school, the investments may return less in gains as they become more conservative to prevent losses. So if your child is 10 years old or younger, 7% will work; if your child is 11-13, try 6%; and put in 5% if your child is 14 to 17.
Please enter a numeric value.

WHAT TO SOCK AWAY FOR COLLEGE

Results

100% of your total college costs will be $247,265

You will need to make monthly contributions of $698 to meet this cost.

Here are the assumptions we've made. Feel free to change them and recalculate the results by pressing "Submit" below.

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