Spryng into Saving for College

As the cost of a college education continues to rise, parents (and their children) are coming up with creative ways to finance it. Roger Michaud, senior vice president and director of sales for Franklin Templeton’s 529 College Savings Plan and chair emeritus of the College Savings Foundation—a not-for-profit organization with the mission of helping America families achieve their education savings goals—discusses some tips and strategies to help fund a college education, including a new platform leveraging the concept of crowdfunding.

For many families in the United States, the cost of higher education is increasingly out of reach. This was a significant issue in the 2016 presidential race, shining a spotlight on the spiraling cost of student debt. The election may be over, but student debt continues to rise.

The cost of college continues to increase faster than our overall rate of inflation. According to data from the New York Federal Reserve, outstanding student loan balances stood at $1.3 trillion as of December 2016.1 While the largest concentration of student loan debt was reported at $10,000–$25,000 (which accounts for 12.4 million student loan borrowers) more than two million student loan borrowers had student loan debt of more than $100,000.2 Those are some big numbers!

Let’s translate those numbers into what it means for the individuals. Student debt has kept many Millennials from achieving life goals—such as owning a home. For parents with younger children, it’s time to formulate a strategy to help secure your children’s future.

It is important to note that student loans are not bad, they just need to be used wisely and should be combined with a saving strategy! So, whether you are just getting started or are already saving, these five strategies can help with your college savings efforts:

1. Start Early
2. Invest Regularly
3. Ask Friends and Family to Help
4. Educate Yourself on Ways to Save
5. Work with a Financial Advisor

Saving for college is a long-term goal, and it’s never too early to start saving—even before your baby is out of diapers. And, there are many different ways to save. No matter which approach you employ, I encourage all parents to start thinking about this important issue sooner rather than later.

I’d like to focus on the third item in this list—ask friends and family for help. By now, most of us are familiar with the concept of crowdfunding, a form of fundraising that taps a pool of outside investors or donors to help finance a given goal or launch a new product.

The concept of crowdfunding is becoming important to college savings for many—particularly those with a type of savings vehicle called a “529 plan,” named after a section of the Internal Revenue code.