(WHTM) — A new study shows that 3 in 4 parents have started saving for college. That’s the good news. But the bad news is that saving is getting a lot harder.
“Parents’ concerns have shifted,” said Tony Durkan with Fidelity Investments. “They’re less concerned about the impact of COVID-19 and more concerned about the impact of inflation and market volatility on their college savings, just like we all are with all of our savings.”
Durkan works with a lot of parents. Fidelity offers this website to help them navigate college expenses. He says parents also have another concern — student debt.
“Seventy-nine percent of parents agree that student debt motivates them to save for college and their child’s education,” Durkan said. He says the student debt forgiveness program will provide some relief, but it does not solve the issue of rising debt. In fact, one-third of parents who have their own student loan debt admitted they haven’t started saving for their child’s education at all.
“It’s very concerning when you consider the inflation aspect of this and college costs. The college inflation rate has been running at double digits for many years now,” Durkan said.
That means caregivers need to start planning now and make sure they have accurate information.
“Parents would never recommend their kids not plan for a test and simply guess at the answers, yet 29% of parents don’t know what the true cost of college is or will be,” Durkan said.
There is help available for those who know where to look. For example, Durkan says using a dedicated account like a 529 can help people take advantage of tax benefits as they save and pay for college. A 529 is a state-sponsored investment plan that lets parents save money for their children’s education and allows them to make tax-free withdrawals to pay for college expenses.
Additionally, caregivers can enlist the help of friends and family around the holidays. “Many family members would welcome the opportunity to help save for college, versus trying to find what the best new toy is or new game is, to support college goals,” Durkan said.
One last tip from the experts: Adults can have a conversation with their children about college and their potential financial responsibilities.