For most parents, the idea of paying for their kids' college — and not having to rely on student loans — seems like a pipe dream. But that's not necessarily the case — at least not if you live in Indiana.
That's where you need to earn the lowest income and still be able to afford college, according to a new study from GOBankingRates. The site identified the average salary a household would have to earn in each of the 50 states in order to comfortably send a child through college without taking out student loans.
They first used College Board data to find each state's average price of tuition at in-state public four-year colleges. Then analysts considered each state's cost of living, which includes paying for necessities like a mortgage, groceries, utilities, transportation and health care. And don't worry, they didn’t forget to factor in splurges and other savings as broken down by the 50/20/30 rule (which you're an expert on by now, right?).
All tallied, several Midwestern states won out as the most affordable, requiring the lowest salaries to put a kid through college without taking on debt, and still allowing parents to save 20% of their income and use 30% on discretionary spending.
States Where You Need to Earn the Least to Afford Public College
1. Indiana — $62,091
2. Arkansas — $62,596
3. Ohio —$62,931
4. Missouri — $63,618
5. Kentucky — $64,111
But bad news for parents living on or near the coastline: They'd need salaries on the high range to comfortably afford college without taking on debt.
States Where You Need to Earn the Most to Afford Public College
1. Hawaii — $126,454
2. California — $106,771
3. Massachusetts — $96,573
4. Colorado — $91,700
5. Connecticut — $91,141
It’s important to note that these figures only account for one child’s education, so interpret the data as you will. Other states that ranked high on the list include New York ($88,476), New Hampshire ($87,334), Maryland ($87,000) and New Jersey ($86,820).
If your salary doesn’t match up with the ones above, there are still steps you can take to make your college savings plan go a bit smoother. For one, the requirements to qualify for financial aid may be more lax than you think. And when it comes time for your high school senior to start applying for college, take a look at our college road map to help prepare your finances.