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There isn’t a lot of talk about how to financially prepare your children for college. While so much time is dedicated to making sure their transcripts are as impressive as possible, less time is spent on how to fund their education. In a 2016 survey, only 40% of parents stated that they had a plan to pay for college. When the acceptance letter arrives, you should already have an idea of how you’re going to fund their education. The planning shouldn’t start then. College planning should start at the birth, or even conception, of the child to make sure that their education can be afforded.

529 College Savings Plans

This plan is an age-based savings account that boasts tax-deferred earnings and tax-free distributions on educated-related expenses. Introduced in 1996, 529s come in two options: prepaid tuition plans and college savings investment plans. Prepaid plans will allow you to solidify the current cost of tuition rather than having to adjust later when tuition inevitably rises. However, many prepaid plans run by the state and are often only eligible for use for in-state public educational institutions.

Know the Tax Breaks

There are a multitude of tax benefits that can be claimed while your child is in college. Tax deductions, credits, and scholarships can put thousands of dollars back into your pocket if you’re currently putting your kid through school. Many of these benefits are unbeknownst to parents and can save them big bucks over the course of a few years.

Research Loans

If you’re not a millionaire, you’ll probably need to take out a few loans to pay for your child’s college education. Loans are often demonized but, with the cost of college rising rapidly, the right one can take a lot of stress away from finding the funds to support your child. Whether you go the private or federal route when it comes to loans, a lot of research is required to determine which option is best for you and your student.

Invest in Life Insurance

Though not directly related to funding college, having a life insurance plan ensures that your child can still get the education they deserve if you or your spouse were to pass away unexpectedly. With some life insurance plans, the buyer can contribute more money regularly to create a cash value that builds while the taxes are being deferred. These funds can then be borrowed, tax-free, by the buyer to fund anything they desire, such as college.

Whether you have a young child or a kid who’s currently taking their SATs, there are avenues to pay for college without leaving too much of a dent in your wealth. Starting early is always recommended, and a bit every month is better than nothing.

Chris Jacob is a Registered Representative with Saxony Securities, Inc. Securities offered through Saxony Securities Inc. (SSI). Member FINRA, SIPC. Non-security products and services or tax services are not offered through SSI. Cadeau is not affiliated with SSI.