When is the best time to start college planning

August 27, 2008

Ideally, many planners agree that the cost of college is a burden on most families, which is why they suggest starting to save for college the first year your child is born. This would give a typical family 17 to 18 years to save.

However, most families have not done this. As your child becomes older and more years slip by that there has been minimal savings or none at all, more aggressive plans must be considered.

I have talked with some families that made the suggestion that they would pull money out of their retirement accounts. This is a huge mistake. There are other alternatives. You can borrow money to go to college; you cannot borrow money to retire.

Not only is financial planning important, student planning is just as crucial. By starting student college planning as a High School Freshman, certain strategies can be implemented in these stages to make your student a very desirable candidate for college. Extra curricular activities, sports and grades all play an important role in positioning. Waiting until your child Senior year in High School is too late to implement these strategies for college admission.

Not only is early planning for college admission important, career planning strategies are also note worthy for High School Seniors, because they will be joining the work force in 4  or so years.

The ideal time line is as a Freshman or Sophomore, start researching career objectives and what lifestyle your student wants to live. Then as a Junior in High School start researching best fit colleges. Colleges that offer the programs and atmosphere and learning environment best fit for your student. During the summer between your child’s High School Junior and Senior year, they need to narrow down which colleges they are interested in applying to. Fall of the High School Senior’s year apply to the colleges. Then in early winter of the students High School Senior year put in your financial aid documents.

Some parents don’t have the luxury of this time line. Simply put, you and your student need to get it into high gear.

Procrastination is not conducive for decisions that have a life long effect.

Start now.

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