College is expensive and will only become more so. The average tuition for a four-year degree is already more than $100,000. If you are contemplating putting a child through college in years to come, there is no time to waste starting to save. But for families struggling to make ends meet, that prospect can be daunting.
With multiple college tuitions looming in their financial future, Dara and Rudy Gray of Port Jefferson, NY, are among those who wish they had saved more, but scraping by with daily expenses made it impossible to build up a college nest egg.
Just months ago, their 17-year-old son began applying to colleges, and with a 13-year-old and an 8-year-old growing up quickly, they have more college dreams to fulfill. To defray the cost of tuition, Dara, a one-time stay-at-home mom, picked up a part-time job and sets her paychecks aside for college.
Struggling to find funds to pay for college is not atypical for families, according to Sallie Mae, the student loan company. According to Sallie Mae’s national study, “2017: How America Pays for College,”while 86 percent of families expect their child to go to college only 39 percent have made plans to pay for it.
Luckily, in the Grays' case, their eldest earned an athletic scholarship to a four-year university, but with two more children close behind, Dara has no intention of giving up her job.
Increasing household income is an important step toward managing a college tuition, financial advisors say, but they also cousel that families on tight budgets should know about a host of resources to make college affordable — even when its just a year away.