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By Roger Michaud
Roger Michaud is a senior vice president and director of sales for Franklin Templeton 529 College Savings Plan. Mr. Michaud is also chairman-emeritus of the College Savings Foundation, the leading nonprofit helping American families save for their children's college education.
Saving for college is similar to the learning process we all go through as children. It cumulates with lots of little steps that take work over a long period of time. The desire to learn can be spurred by parents who read to their young children, and later, read with their older children. Getting children interested in school and stimulating their curiosity are essential steps that fuel a desire to learn.
The same rationale that applies to early education applies to saving for college. To a young child, learning to read can seem overwhelming and even impossible at first, but breaking it down into individual letters and sounds is the first of many small steps toward the goal of finishing an entire book. In some ways, saving for college can be a similar exercise. The required sums may seem staggering, but even small contributions over time—maybe including the help of family and friends—can make a huge difference in the final outcome.
In 2014, the College Savings Foundation surveyed American families about how they were saving for future college costs (if at all).1 The survey revealed something very interesting. The families that were considered “successful” when it comes to saving for college all used five common and simple strategies. 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
5. Work with a Financial Advisor
This holiday season, I encourage you to tap into your pool of family or friends who would be willing to help finance your child’s college with a monetary gift opposed to the hottest gadget or game. Have a niece, nephew, or grandchild that you are shopping for? There really is no better gift than gift of education. Albeit maybe a hard one for young kids to understand now, they will thank you later. And in the meantime, perhaps throw in a card, small toy, or candy to hold them over?
Saving for college may seem like an impossible task—the good news is you don’t have to do it alone. Happy holidays—and good luck!
What Are the Risks?
All investments involve risks, including potential loss of principal.
Investors should carefully consider college savings plan investment goals, risks, charges and expenses before investing. To obtain a disclosure document, which contains this and other information, talk to your financial advisor or call Franklin Templeton Distributors, Inc., the manager and underwriter for a 529 plan at (800) DIAL BEN® / (800) 342-5236 or visitfranklintempleton.com. You should read the disclosure document carefully before investing and consider whether your, or the beneficiary’s, home state offers any state tax or other benefits that are only available for investments in its qualified tuition program.
1 Source: College Savings Foundation, “State of College Savings.”
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