Saving for college is at the forefront of many parent’s minds, and it’s easy to see why. Figures from CollegeBoard show that the average cost for tuition and fees at public, four-year colleges is now up to $10,440 for the 2019-2020 school year, and that number jumps to $21,950 per year when you add in room and board. The news gets exponentially worse for parents who want to send their kids to private colleges, where the average cost of tuition and fees worked out to $36,880 nationally, and where room and board bring that figure up to a shocking $49,870 per year.

We all know that few people pay the full sticker price for higher education, mostly due to various types of aid many qualify for including scholarships and grants. But the fact remains that 45 million borrowers owed an astounding $1.6 trillion dollars on their student loans at last count. On an individual basis, graduates with debt are leaving school with an average student loan balance of $29,200, according to recent figures. 

Parents should be horrified at the thought of leaving their children to start their adult lives with mountains of debt that can take a decade or longer to pay off. But outside of setting students up to qualify for as much aid as possible, saving early and often is the best way to ward off student loan debt. 

Still, parents should make sure they’re on track to reach their retirement goals first, which is why it can help to get other family members involved with your savings plans. Remember, there’s an order of operations to save for college – follow it!

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