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Financial Literacy - College funding
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Make it a family affair
Parents aren't the only ones who should be concerned with paying for college. Get prospective students to share the load.
Smart ways to pay for college

Make saving a family affair

Getting Junior to contribute to his own college savings
Don't be afraid to tap your kids for help with their own college savings. "It's not that children are not entitled to a college education. They are," says Godfrey. "But especially if you've got multiple children, it can be a tremendous economic burden. They need to understand the pressure on the family."

In fact, she feels that getting your children involved now will help motivate them in college.

"If you want to see a kid attend classes and be serious, have them pay for part of their college education," she says. "Then they will realize each class is costing them $250 or whatever it is. They are invested in it."

Deciding on a reasonable amount may depend on a number of factors, including your family's income, your child's earnings, other financial obligations and the expectations and needs of your child.

Godfrey had her kids pay for 25 percent, or one year, of college costs. While acknowledging that might seem stiff to some people, she says that kids can get creative in how they "pay" for their portion -- by taking Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate classes in high school to offset college courses, applying for scholarships and grants, taking an extra course each semester or working in college. Students seem to be taking advantage of the AP classes: Between 1999 and 2005, the number taking AP exams increased from 686,000 to nearly 1.2 million, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Another option is to deduct a portion of their allowance for college savings. In Godfrey's family, one-third of her kids' allowance was devoted to a long-term goal, such as college savings. They still got to spend some of the money they earned by doing certain chores, but part of their pay went toward their future.

Kids too old for an allowance can still help save. Most teens have part-time jobs, says Jackie Williams, chair of the College Savings Plans Network and executive director of the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority, the state sponsor of Ohio's 529 plan. Ask them to save half of their income for their 529 account and let them keep the other half, she suggests.

-- Posted: Sept. 17, 2007
 
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