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College or Bust, Part Deux

I've found some good info over the past week! Let's get right to it:

Est. cost of one year at a public university, like UT Austin*HOOK ‘EM HORNS*: $16,000

Est. cost of one year at a private university, like SMU: $31,000 (Um, that rules SMU out for us!)

Est. cost of one year at a private art school, like the Art Institute of Dallas: $22,000-$26,000 (depending on whether you’re in the 2-year or 4-year program)

Est. cost of one year at an in-state community college, like TCC: $1,500 (that’s right – one-comma-five, not one-five-comma!)

Also, I learned that with college savings plans (529 plans),you’re supposed to contribute about $3,000 a year (about $250 a month) from the child’s birth until they finish college – that would be about 22 years, for a total savings of $65,000.  Sounds totally doable!  But see, that’s where I have a disadvantage… I didn’t become one of her parents until she was nine years old!  Who knew her mom and dad didn’t already have college savings set up?!  I demand a recount!

Be that as it may, I now only have the upcoming four years of high school (God-willing) and four years of college (seriously, fingers crossed) to save that same $65,000, which means I should be contributing just over $8,000 per year to a 529 plan (about $675 a month).  I need to start socking away, like, yesterday.  Yeah, um, if I could afford another $675 bill every month, I’d be driving that sweet Lexus SUV I totally don’tneed…

Here’s The Plan: Hubby and I will start saving $100 a month starting this month, just for the kid’s college fund (I am still waiting on the economy to recover a bit more before going crazy with new investments).  Then, for the next three years, I will bump it up to $200-$250 a month. If her mom and stepdad do that also, we will have over $20,000 saved by the time she graduates from high school, not even including any gains or interest that money makes. 

The Plan should cover the first year at a major university, and if she goes to TCC for her first two years, $20,000 could cover her first three years in college! Then, both sets of parents can keep saving the $200-$250 a month as she enters college, and NO ONE has to take out loan! Hopefully she’ll also have at least some small scholarships on the side to help out, from essay contests and what-not.  Sounds like a plan to me!  And much less daunting than $80,000 all at once.

Now I just need to clear the plan with the other three parents… ah, the joys of step-parenting. Stick to The Plan and it’s not too late to pay for college, even if your kiddos are already in high school - it sneaks up on you, I know!

*Disclaimer: These numbers are rough estimates pulled from each of the aforementioned university’s respective websites.

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