The College Board calls a “moderate” budget for an in-state public college just shy of $23,000 a year. A private college is harder on the pocketbook, to the tune of around $45,000 a year. These numbers take into consideration tuition, fees, housing, meals, books, school supplies and personal and transportation expenses. If you’re a parent who’s hoping to pay for your child’s college expenses, you’re probably wondering what kind of fancy financial footwork you can do to come up with this kind of cash. We have some ideas:
How to Finance College for Your Child
To help defray tuition and living expenses, help your child find scholarships. Numerous funding opportunities exist, you just need to know where to look.
Look Into a Lump-Sum Payout
If you receive fixed payments from a lottery win, structured settlement or an annuity, this might be the time to sell all or a portion of those payments. Companies like J.G. Wentworth may be able to purchase either all or part of your future payments for a lump sum of cash now, giving college-paying parents some much-needed liquid income.
Dip Into Retirement Savings
Raiding your retirement fund shouldn’t be your first option. Most people don’t have extra IRA or 401(k) funds to spare. But there are times when it can help make a dent in the tuition fees. If you do decide to dip into your retirement, make sure you have a plan for the money and know exactly what it will cost you.
There are tax penalties for dipping into retirement savings, but these depend on what you are using the money for. For example, according to the IRS, taking a general distribution from your IRA before you reach age 59 and a half means you will have to pay an additional 10 percent tax due to early distribution. This applies to a traditional IRA, Roth IRA or SIMPLE IRA. Early distribution on a SIMPLE IRA can even cost you up to 25 percent. However, the IRS will waive the tax penalty if you are using the money to fund higher education. Income tax will still apply, but you won’t have to pay the additional 10 percent.
Get a Home Equity Loan
If you have sufficient equity built up in your home, this may be a good option. While the federal Stafford loans currently come with an interest rate of 3.86 percent, you may be able to get a home equity loan for a lower rate than this. Plus, you can usually write off the interest on your taxes.
Cover Interest Rates of a College Loan
You may wish to have your child apply for a student loan and then pay the interest on the amount yourself. This prevents the loan from accruing any interest, and once your child has graduated and the loans are due, you can then help him or her pay off the loans—either the full amount or whatever you are able to do.
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