Saving for College

Education is an investment that pays a lifetime of dividends. Over a lifetime, a person with a bachelor's degree will earn on average $517,000 more than a person with no education beyond high school. Up front, however, the cost of college can loom as a significant financial challenge for most families. In fact, providing for a child's college education is one of the largest expenditures many families will ever face.

Financial aid (loans, grants, scholarships, work-study) is only part of the formula when it comes to paying for college since it does not usually cover all the costs of a university education. Furthermore, grant and loan programs can change over time in terms of eligibility and money available for distribution, and scholarships are not available to everyone. How much families can afford to save for college depends on their financial situation, but they need to do what they can and begin as early as possible.

How to Begin to Save

To develop a successful savings strategy, families will need to know how much a UW education will cost. To do so, students and parents should estimate a budget that includes tuition and fees, books, transportation, housing, food, miscellaneous costs, and emergency expenses. Current tuition costs for UW campuses are available in the College Costs section.

How Much to Save

Developing a savings plan is an important first step. It is important to save as much as circumstances allow, but any amount saved is a step in the right direction. Setting a savings goal and breaking it down into manageable installments is a good way to get started.

It is still vital to investigate all options and consult other resources that may offer assistance on how to set up a savings plan, such as the local bank, credit union, savings and loan, public library, or a financial planner. The following two sections list Web resources that offer assistance on starting a college savings plan.

Setting and Achieving a Goal

Ways to Save

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