Saturday, September 11, 2010

How much should I save for college?

 Fidelity Investments released guidelines last month for how much parents should save in a 529 college savings plan. It shows both annual and monthly selections. If the plan is followed you should not have to take out any loans. 
 
The guidelines estimate what a four year in-state college would cost in 18 years from now for a parent with a newborn infant today. It used data from the College Board about the average cost of public and private colleges today and how much those costs are growing annually. It assumes a 5.4 percent annual growth rate in costs for the next 18 years. 
 
Next, using Sallie Mae data, Fidelity estimated how much in scholarships, grants and family gifts households currently earning $55,000, $75,000 and $100,000 annually could expect to receive and subtracted that amount from the expected cost. Then it estimated how much, at each of those income levels, a family would need to save to cover future college costs. Assuming they put the money in a 529 plan that gave a return in line with what the company estimates an investment in Fidelity's age based investment option should provide. 
 
The table reflects their findings and supplies their actual dollar amounts to be invested every month. 
 
 Their are no guidelines for family's making over $100,000 dollars per year. But they should examine the guidelines and interpret a plan that suits their own situation. Also the proposed savings amount don't consider the extra expenses that go with college, only tuition. Though transportation and health care are qualified 529 expenses. 
 
Fidelity Investments claims if you follow their recommendations the family making $55,000 would accumulate $48,000 for public college and $107,000 for a private college. The $75,000 family would have to save $51,000 for public college and $115,000 for a private college. The family making $100,000 would need to save $55,000 for public college and $123,000 for a private college. 
 
Now these figures are very subjective. We don't know what the final amounts would have grown to. Also we don't know if a family could sustain making these large payments for 18 years. But if they could the 529 accounts would become substantial. I am aware that it's pretty hard to estimate all this and I have to give Fidelity credit for attempting this. The amounts of monthly savings are relatively close. The family incomes are not, so the burden is on the lower wage earners. Like I said it's a place to start. w


1 comment:

  1. I saved 0 for college, concentrated on getting the house paid off, all other debts, and saving for retirement. Then when college came along I had ample free cash flow to cover the costs.

    ReplyDelete

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