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Saving for college—when is the right time to start?

When should parents start saving for college?

Going to college is a significant milestone in a young person’s life. It’s an opportunity to learn new skills, meet new people, and prepare for the future.

However, college is also expensive, and many families struggle to afford it. According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2021-2022 academic year was $37,800 at private colleges, $10,560 for in-state students at public four-year colleges, and $27,020 for out-of-state students at public four-year colleges.

These figures don’t include room and board, textbooks, and other expenses that can add up quickly. That’s why it’s essential for parents to start saving for college as early as possible. In this blog post, we’ll explore when parents should start saving for their children to go to college and offer some tips to help them plan for their child’s education.

Why Save for College?

Saving for college is essential for many reasons. First and foremost, college is expensive, and many families can’t afford to pay for it out of pocket. Without savings, many students have to rely on loans to pay for their education, which can result in significant debt after graduation. In fact, according to the Federal Reserve, Americans owe over $1.7 trillion in student loan debt.

Second, saving for college can help ensure that your child has access to the education they need to succeed. A college education can open doors to better job opportunities and higher earning potential. By saving for college, you’re investing in your child’s future and giving them the tools they need to succeed.

Factors to Consider When Deciding When to Start Saving for College

When deciding when to start saving for college, there are several factors to consider. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Your Financial Situation

Your financial situation is a crucial factor when deciding when to start saving for college. If you’re struggling to pay your bills or have significant debt, you may need to focus on getting your finances in order before you can start saving for college. However, if you have a stable income and can afford to save, it’s never too early to start.

  1. Your Child’s Age

Your child’s age is another important factor to consider. The earlier you start saving for college, the more time you’ll have to accumulate funds. Ideally, you should start saving as soon as your child is born. However, if your child is already in high school, don’t worry; it’s not too late to start saving. You can still make significant progress in a few years if you plan and save strategically.

  1. Your Child’s Educational Goals

Your child’s educational goals can also impact when you should start saving for college. If your child wants to attend an expensive private school or out-of-state college, you may need to start saving earlier to ensure you have enough funds. On the other hand, if your child plans to attend a local community college or state school, you may not need to save as much.

  1. Your Savings Strategy

Your savings strategy is another factor to consider when deciding when to start saving for college. There are several ways to save for college, including UTMA accounts, 529 plans, Coverdell Education Savings Accounts, and other custodial accounts. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, so it’s essential to research and choose a strategy that works for you.

Each family situation is unique and it may not make sense to start saving at the same time as a different family, but the earlier you begin, the greater the possibility is that your child will be able to cover some costs of going to college.

UNest has made it easier than ever for parents to not only decide when to start saving for their kids’ college, but also easy to start saving each month.

Simply download the app, set up your account, and then you can set up a recurring deposit every month for your child.

You can start contributing to your child’s account from day one. Friends and family can even send cash gifts directly into their account for any occasion, including birthdays and holidays.

Over years, that account can grow and be used for them to go to school, buy a car, or tackle any of life’s biggest obstacles.


This material is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial, legal, or tax advice. You should consult your own financial, legal, and tax advisors before engaging in any transaction. Information, including hypothetical projections of finances, may not take into account taxes, commissions, or other factors which may significantly affect potential outcomes. This material should not be considered an offer or recommendation to buy or sell a security. While information and sources are believed to be accurate, UNest does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any information or source provided herein and is under no obligation to update this information.