CHICAGO, IL -- (Marketwired) -- 04/22/13 -- Financially preparing for college in the face of rising high education costs can be a daunting task, but a sound savings strategy today can ease the strain of tomorrow's tuition costs.
Saving should be a priority as soon as possible because the decisions you make now will have a significant impact on how much money you have when your children are ready to head off to college, according to Dean Urbanski, Vice President, BMO Harris Financial Advisors, Inc., a part of BMO Financial Group. "Exploring various options and planning early can make the cost for a college education much more tolerable," Urbanski added.
Below are a few options to help families pay for college:
•Consider a 529 Plan: Designed to help families set aside funds for future college costs, a 529 Plan is an education savings plan operated by the state or an educational institution. 529 Plans can be used to help pay the costs of qualified higher education expenses at colleges nationwide.
•Set Up a Savings Account: Using cash for costs outside of tuition, such as books and a meal plan, will keep student loans and credit card debt down. Start a savings account specifically for these types of expenses. The student can also participate by depositing a percentage of money from summer or weekend jobs and from monetary gifts into the account to give them a sense of ownership. It's never too early or too late to begin saving for a college education.
•Share your Plan with Others: If grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other family members know about your college savings plans, they can help out. They can deposit into a 529 Plan or savings account or buy Savings Bonds as birthday and holiday presents and help build up money to use toward college costs.
•Apply for Federal Student Aid Programs: Through the use of grants, work-study programs, and federal loans, there are a variety of resources available to help fund a college education. Eligibility is different for each program. For further information, visit www.ed.gov.
•Research Scholarship Opportunities: Scholarships are available to a variety of people through individual universities, county offices, privately held businesses, and nonprofit organizations. Your school's guidance counselor can be helpful in providing information on local scholarship opportunities or scholarship information for specific colleges being considered.
Perhaps your greatest asset in financially preparing for your children's college is to find a financial advisor who can help you determine which investment option may best fit your particular situation.
Said Urbanski, "Our financial advisors have financial planning tools that can provide real clarity into the expenses associated with attending college. We can provide a detailed report that can be customized to a specific college (public or private) or work with average tuition rates. These reports can include expense information on room & board, books, personal expenses, and tuition. In addition, based in part on inflation rates that have historically been associated with increases in college expenses, we can factor in and project to what level inflation rates may drive college tuition to at a future year, which is critical when planning over longer periods of time."
By sorting through the various options, it's possible to create a successful plan to prepare for college funding. To find a financial advisor near you, visit www.bmoharris.com/financialadvisors.
To learn more about Money Smart Week visit, www.moneysmartweek.org.
About BMO Harris Bank
BMO Harris Bank provides a broad range of personal banking products and solutions through over 600 branches and approximately 1,300 ATMs in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Nevada, Arizona and Florida. BMO Harris Bank's commercial banking team provides a combination of sector expertise, local knowledge and mid-market focus throughout the U.S. For more information about BMO Harris Bank, go to the company fact sheet. Deposit and loan products and services provided by BMO Harris Bank N.A. Member FDIC. BMO Harris Bank(SM) is a trade name used by BMO Harris Bank N.A. BMO Harris Bank is part of BMO Financial Group, a North American financial organization with approximately 1,600 branches, and $542 billion in assets (as of Jan. 31, 2013).
BMO Harris Financial Advisors, Inc. and BMO Harris Bank N.A. are affiliated companies. Securities, investment advisory services and insurance products are offered through BMO Harris Financial Advisors, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC. SEC-registered investment adviserSecurities and insurance products offered are: NOT A DEPOSIT - NOT INSURED BY THE FDIC OR ANY FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AGENCY - NOT GUARANTEED BY ANY BANK - MAY LOSE VALUE.
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