Know the fine details of saving for college education

Know the fine details of saving for college education
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(WWBT) - College costs keep going up and up.

If your children are young now, there no way to know what it will cost when they get ready to attend college in 10 or 15 years.

But there are ways to save on that expense.

The average four-year in-state tuition with fees and room and board is getting close to $85,000. If you go out of state, that cost jumps to $145,000.

The first thing to decide is how much of the expense you want to be on the hook for. Do you want to cover all of the cost or half of it? Once you determine that, then you can set a savings goal.

The two biggest ways to save tax-advantaged accounts such as a 529 or Roth IRA and non-tax-advantaged accounts like bonds or mutual funds. In a tax-advantaged account, any interest or dividends are not taxed on a year-by-year basis. The other types of accounts are.

No matter what you want to use, read the fine print. There could be income or residency restrictions that aren't immediately clear.

But before making up your mind, financial planner Thomas Block with Anchor Financial Group said the most important thing is to think about your own retirement first.

"I have ways to find funding for college savings between grants, scholarships, loans and personal savings," Block said. "You don't get those options in retirement. You don't have a scholarship you can apply for in retirement."

Big goals like helping your child with their college education won't happen if you don't first look after your own goals like saving for your future.

And no matter what, it's always best to go over your own situation with a certified financial planner.

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