How to Budget for Your Child’s College Tuition | AD

*This is a collaborative guest post

It’s one of the biggest questions parents have about money in just how much does it cost to put a kid through college? While the cost of tuition is exorbitant in many places, there are still affordable options, particularly in state schools with in-resident tuition rates. For example, resident tuition could cost over $5,000 for a full-time student. For out-of-state students, that cost could skyrocket to $12,000. While you may worry about being able to help your child avoid student debt, there are options that can make education costs more manageable.

Should I Pay for My Child’s Tuition?

Ultimately, this is a personal choice, but it should be the first question you ask before you put too much pressure on yourself to pay for everything. In many cases, it simply isn’t financially feasible. Parents might both work full-time, or you may have a stable income, but there’s not enough room in your budget to cover the cost of an entire degree. This doesn’t make you a bad parent, and your child isn’t going to be worse off in life because you can’t pay for their education. 

There are also cases where parents decide not to contribute to help their child build independence and a sense of financial and personal accountability. This is also fine. The decision should be entirely yours, and it’s perfectly acceptable to decide that you do not want to run yourself $40,000 or more into debt for your child’s degree.

I Want to Pay for My Child’s Tuition, But I Can’t Afford It

Most families won’t be able to cover the full cost of attendance for a four-year school, and that applies even more so for students whose eyes are set on private and prestigious institutions. Going Ivy League is a major financial investment, not just a personal achievement, and it can have serious implications if your child doesn’t think their decision through fully. A degree from a great school can open many doors, but will those doors lead to salaries that help them get out of six-figure debt in a decade? 

Tuition, books, supplies, transportation and room & board all factor into how much you’ll need to pay for college. Students should be asked to calculate their expected total and present it to you, along with their decisions for choosing a school. It’s important for them to understand the financial sacrifice they’re making and the impact it will have on their life and yours if you offer assistance.

Once you have determined an affordable option, you have a few ways to go about getting funding. If you have equity, you could apply for a home equity loan. This can give you a considerable lump sum to put toward college costs in some cases. You can also look into federal and private loan options. A low-rate Private Parent Loan can help you contribute on your own terms. You get to compare figures and pick your repayment plan. If your child still has several years before applying for school, you can set up a 529 college savings account. In some states, this even comes with tax deductions. You can set it up similarly to an IRA or 401k plan, so there’s a lot of flexibility that allows you to save up without risking your budget.

Go Through Student Loan Counselling Together

You may decide to put money toward tuition but still have your child take out their own loans to fully pay for their degree. In this case, it’s a good idea to read up on student loans and learn everything there is to know together. You can still support your student as they prepare for their studies, even if you aren’t footing the entire bill. Your love and guidance are equally valuable contributions to their success.

How to Budget for Your Child's College Tuition


  • Donna Wishart

    Donna Wishart is married to Dave and they have two children, Athena (12) and Troy (11). They live in Surrey with their two cats, Fred and George. Once a Bank Manager, Donna has been writing about everything from family finance to days out, travel and her favourite recipes since 2012. Donna is happiest either exploring somewhere new, with her camera in her hand and family by her side or snuggled up with a cat on her lap, reading a book and enjoying a nice cup of tea. She firmly believes that tea and cake can fix most things.

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