Education Planning: Getting Started

Photo of a Parent Helping His Child Ride a Tricycle

Many people put off planning for their children's educations until the kids are well into their teens. Often, they discover they've waited too long. With a late start, they have little time to accumulate the assets they need, and miss the chance to plan opportunities to maximize available financial aid. Ideally, the best time to begin planning for your children's education is the day you learn you're going to be a parent.

There are many factors to consider when planning for your child's education. These include whether you favor public, private, parochial, or home schooling, and how to pay for education. Many families even plan where to live by choosing which primary and secondary school districts their children will attend. Then there's higher education. College or trade schools?

Perhaps not all children should go to college, but all should be afforded the opportunity for a post-high school education so they may hone their skills to excel in the job market. There are many excellent post-high school programs for students who choose not to attend academic colleges.

Your child's education should be a part of your overall financial planning.

There are many ways to pay for education. The most common method in the United States is through taxation. Each state has its own rules for taxing residents to pay for public education. Private, parochial, and home schools don't receive public funds, so each family must pay for these out-of-pocket. While more governments are experimenting with education voucher plans to offset the cost of private education, at the time of this writing, they are not widely available. Financial aid is available for secondary and post-high school education, but there are rigid requirements to qualify for aid.

With so many things to consider, your child's education should be a part of your overall financial planning. Not only do you have to consider how your child will be educated, but how you will pay for it, too. You also should consider how your plans will be achieved if your family income is diminished if you lose income due to layoff, accident, illness, or death.

When is the second best time to start planning for your child's education? Today.

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