5 Things To Think About If You Want To Pay For College

This post was sponsored by COUNTRY Financial. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Post contains affiliate links.

My husband and I decided long ago that we wanted to pay for our children’s college education. Or, at least as much of it as we could pay for. We decided this even before we had children.

My husband realizes he was very lucky that his parents paid for his college education. My parents were unable to do the same and today we are STILL paying off my undergraduate loans – 15 years later.

Ten years ago, we knew we didn’t want the same for our kids. We decided that we would come up with a plan to try and pay for all or most of their undergraduate degrees.

These are some points we thought about and talked through with our COUNTRY Financial representative. If you want to pay for your child’s education too, or at least part of it, here’s what you should consider.

Figure out how many children you will have

If you’re still in the space where you’re giving birth to tiny humans, figure out how long that’s going to go on. You need to know this if you want to pay for college because it’s going to impact how much of your children’s education you are able to pay for. Unless you win the lottery or are independently wealthy, there will only be so much money to go around. There will be less and less per child for each additional child you have.

Long ago we decided that we wanted no more than three children. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you will know we did have three children and are lucky to be raising two. Once we had our now 3-year-old son we decided that we were done. I was 35 and having babies was expensive for us – a year of college expensive.

Look at the costs of college and estimate inflation

College costs have only been going up since, well, college was invented. According to College Board, for 2017-2018, the average cost for one year of college – including tuition and fees – was $34,740 for a private school, just under $10,000 for state residents at state schools and just over $25,000 for out-of-state students at public schools.

In 2012, Campus Consultants Founder and President Kal Chany estimated that college will cost about $41,000 for a state resident at state schools. Private schools might reach as high as $130,000.

After seeing those numbers, take a deep breath

That’s it for this. Just do some deep breathing because the idea of all this is overwhelming. A COUNTRY Financial agent can help you make it less overwhelming. More on that in a bit.

Decide what kind of school your kids will go to

You might say this isn’t your decision, and you’re right. Your child will have a large say in where they want to go, but that should also come with a big, lengthy discussion about the finances it will take. At that point, you can decide how much you can pay.

You might say that you need to know this before you can set a goal to save, but you can certainly start saving before a school is picked out. Even if you don’t have enough to pay for that school, you will probably be able to pay for a portion of it and it’s better than nothing.

Meet with your financial consultant and go over options for saving

There are multiple ways you can save and meeting with a COUNTRY Financial representative can help you look at all your options. From regular savings accounts to 529 Plans and more, there are many ways COUNTRY Financial can help you reach your saving goals. They will explain the options and let you decide which one will work best for your family.

Pick a direction, or two, and don’t look back

Once you meet with your COUNTRY Financial representative, decide which plan will be right for your family. Maybe you even select different options for each child? Whatever you decide, commit to it. Commit to saving for the future and for your kids’ futures. If you have to adjust it throughout life, do what works for your family but keep the end goal in mind.

For more information on how to save for your child, click here to visit COUNTRY Financial and learn more.

Click here to see the seven mistakes parents make when saving for college and here to see 30 ways you can reduce daily costs to help save for school.


  1. I definitely agree with these points. We would have benefited from some early planning. It’s sometimes difficult to think ahead when your kids are little but it helps.

  2. It’s so important to plan for this now! You never know how things can change and a plan set in place helps so much. Great tips!

  3. It sounds wild but you really do need to start saving for their education pretty much as soon as your babies are born. I’m so lucky that my parents are helping me pay back my student loans.

  4. This is seriously awesome! I love that you suggested to figure out the numbers, then to take a breath… college is SO expensive but if you do it right and prepare like you suggest, it’s totally possible to be less stressful!

  5. We really need to start thinking about this and preparing. College is so expensive, I would like to start planning and saving. Thanks for the information.

  6. My parents paid for most of my college, and so did my husband’s parents for him. We both took out small loans to help with a few things and had both paid off within 5 years. I only took one my last semester because my class schedule was so hectic I couldn’t work. We have savings accounts set up for the boys already and transfer money to them each month to start saving. It’s small enough that we don’t notice, but it will give them a good start on whatever they want to do when they graduate high school.

  7. In Canada college is a little bit different. For our daughter’s 2 years of college it ended up costing around $13,000 in total. She did live at home still so that saved us money. Thankfully, she didn’t have to get any loans since we have been saving for our children’s education for a while now.

  8. It is important to decide this things early because college is really expensive. We are lucky that some of the colleges here are free.

  9. This was so interesting to read; in the UK we get student loans and you only start paying them off after university if you are earning over a certain amount. Scotland get it completely free which I envy! I have a lot of friends in the states and I’ve never really understood how paying for college works until now.

  10. I need to start working on this. I have prepaid set up for one son and my other son I know he will be applying for bright futures but it doesn’t cover 100% so I am going to make sure I have a fund set up for him to cover extras and if they both go local, I will prob keep them living at home, or with roommates to cut down living expenses.

  11. My husband parents paid for his college education right out of high school and he hated it and ended up dropping out. Seven years later he went back and we paid for his education ourselves. I think it’s great for parents to pay but I worry about the pressures of forcing you do adults into secondary education too soon and then not benefitting from it.

  12. My ten-year-old was just asking me if she had a college fund. We do but it definitely isn’t going to cover more than a semester. Time to chat with the pros and figure out a good plan for college.

  13. College is SO expensive. I really need to get on it and start a savings account for my little girl… It’s going to be crazy when she’s older. I can’t even afford to send myself to college now.

  14. We are saving for our kids college funds. My biggest fear is that we’ll get screwed over some how as I keep hearing so many horror stories.

  15. College is so incredibly expensive. I hope we will be able to provide paying for all of it for our kids. I think saving early is key.

  16. Being financially aware of your goals for family and kids futures is so important. These are great points to start your planning and conversations! Our son will start college in a few years and it was helpful to have a plan before we got to applications, scholarships and decisions. So much work! But easier when you have a plan. Great resource. I pinned this to my Finances board as well. Thanks!

  17. A financial consultant is a great idea. I used student loans but am hoping to avoid that when my fiancé and I have kids!

  18. This is a very insightful post. My husband and I were both done with college when we married and had kids, so we were able to save enough for their college education. Between paying off the house and saving for college, we went through really thrifty measures. It takes a lot of will power, discipline and future planning to make things work.

  19. My kids are toddlers currently but I think it’s a perfect time to start thinking about their college funds now. And this post is so perfect for helping my husband and I getting it all started.

  20. I know one reason that my husband didn’t want to expand our family any more is because he is looking at college expenses for the kiddos we already have. We’re trying to tuck away money for each child – thankfully they’re spread out pretty good so Its not huge lump sums back to back

  21. This is a good post in raising this important (but often not-thought-about) topic. We only had two kids for lots of reasons, including the sheer increase in so many expenses (from size of vehicle to size of house) in jumping from 2 to 3. College was a consideration here, too. And we both opened college savings accounts in our state, which in our state means we contribute with pre-tax dollars. I would point out, though, that besides there being lots of scholarships out there, going to a public “4-year” institution is not automatically going to mean lower expenses. Just this morning on the radio, the new president of our local state school was commenting on how barely a third of students graduate in 4 years, and just over half graduate in SIX YEARS – whereas my undergraduate alma mater (for which I am on the board that oversees the annual fundraising campaign) commits to graduating students in four years or less, AND commits to meeting students’ need so that no one graduates with more than $10K in total student debt. Private schools often have financial resources available for aid that public institutions do not, and the ability to get the classes you need and graduate in 4 years – fewer if you come in with enough AP or dual-enrollment credits from high school – means that your total cost over 4 years will often be less compared to a public institution, where the tuition may be lower but you can’t get the classes you need to graduate in four years with sufficient credits for your major. It’s important to factor this in when looking at schools with your child.

  22. Two more years to go and we have a college student. Yikes! We have saved a little and hopefully, we’ll have enough savings by the time he finished high school. 🙂

  23. While I dont have kids yet, I graduated from my Associate’s Degree last year and just spending this year to save up and maybe go back to school next year. During those three years at my community college I had to pay out of pocket for my first semester and did my best to apply to all scholarships I can get into. My FAFSA was denied because it had something to do with my parents’ income but even after getting a scholarship I feel as though tuition fees are such a heavy load. Most students have to work two jobs plus take out student loans:(

  24. The cost of a college education has skyrocketed in the last couple decades and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. That makes it especially important to start saving early. These are all great tips!


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