For many families, the retirement age of the parents tends to overlap with the college years of the younger children in the family. That can place a lot of financial stress on the parents, who may feel compelled to provide educational financing for their children. All too often, that pressure doesn't end with college. Kids may require years of support when starting a career or moving for a new job.
As a parent who wants the best for their kids, you likely want to give your children the opportunity to succeed at life through education. However, you shouldn't sacrifice your own financial stability and your ability to retire in the future for the education of your children.
With young adults finding it increasingly difficult to directly enter the workforce after college, parents of would-be college students have to ask themselves some very difficult questions about retirement, educational financing and the future. You need to take care to plan as early as possible to avoid difficulties that can impact your future and the future of your children.
You shouldn't diminish your own savings for your kids
The best option for most families wanting to finance college is to slowly build up a nest-egg that will cover college expenses. However, with college costs increasing rapidly in recent decades, even parents who planned for the future may find that the money they set aside won't cover the costs of college for their kids. Many parents are quick to dip into their own savings to help bridge the gap between what they have put aside for their kids and what college will really cost.
Unfortunately, doing that can put you at a serious financial disadvantage. Generally speaking, it is not in your best interest to pull money out of either a retirement fund or your house in equity to help your kids pay for college. Even co-signing student loans may prove to be a mistake.
Helping your kids establish credit when they are young and looking into alternative ways to pay for college is a smart idea. In many cases, helping finance student loans is a better option than accepting tax penalties because you withdrew money from your retirement accounts to cover those costs.
Careful financial planning can help your family avoid complicated pitfalls
If you hope to set money aside for your young child to use on college, creating a specialized educational trust could be a good idea. You may also want to buy into a state college fund. There are many options available to families who want to financially plan for college.
Bankers are not the only professionals you want to consult about these important financial decisions. You should also talk with a Gainesville attorney who understands financial planning to help ensure that you are making the best decisions possible.