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How Much Should I Save for College?

One of the biggest questions when it comes to college is how much to save. College is both one of the most stressful and important times for students and their parents. For many, college is the ticket to a better standard of living, better-paying jobs, and a more sophisticated lifestyle. However, it definitely comes at a cost. The rising costs of college are forcing both students and parents to think ahead when it comes to planning.

Those who do the proper amount of planning will be best-prepared for college costs when they do finally arise. Many parents and students wonder about what is the best amount to save for college. We are going to provide you with some much-needed guidance on that topic.
Factors to Consider
One of the reasons that it is hard to give a concrete answer to the question is that every child’s college experience is going to be different. This means that there are a variety of factors to consider when determining how much to save for college. Luckily, we have been able to organize all of these factors into one place so that you can interpret them on your own. Here are the factors that you should be taking into consideration when it comes time to start planning for the costs of college.
Financial Aid
One of the biggest factors that will determine how much you will need to save for upfront college costs is the amount of financial aid that you will be receiving from the government and college. The government has many programs available to help students in need. How much you receive often depends on your household income and other factors. You can get an estimate of the kind of financial aid package you may receive by using an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) calculator. Many colleges also have their own calculators to estimate what kind of financial aid package you might receive.

What College You Will Be Attending
Another factor that will heavily influence the amount that you should feel comfortable saving for college is the university that you or your child will be attending. As you well know, the cost of college varies drastically based on which college you decide to attend. Prestigious four-year colleges cost much more than two-year community colleges, for example. However, don’t only look at the full sticker price of an institution. Sometimes more expensive colleges will offer more generous financial aid packages putting their costs more in line with less expensive colleges.

How Long Your Degree Will Take
The length of time that you or your child is in college will also have a large impact on the total cost when all is said and done. For instance, those who go on to become doctors and need to go to school for eight total years will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars more on their education than someone who gets a two-year degree in IT. You should try to get a good grasp on how long your degree or the degree of your child will take to obtain if you want to know how much to save for college.

Estimated Housing Costs
The nature of your degree and the university that you choose are not the only things that have bearing on the final cost of education. Housing is not a small expense. Those who are planning to go to college should plan ahead for the estimated housing costs and ensure that their savings plan matches up with their goals for housing.

Use a Savings Calculator
Once you have an idea of the costs of some of the colleges you are interested in, the best way to determine how much to save is to use an online savings calculator. With this type of calculator, you input the cost of the college, how many years your child will attend college, and how many years until your child starts. It’s best to use one of the estimates from a college on how much you will actually pay after financial aid than the sticker price of the college.