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Important Things to Know About College Planning

Cypress Wealth Services

July 2021

Children bring joy, fun, and a sense of purpose into our lives. Although all that purpose can sometimes leave you feeling like an ATM, you’ve proudly supported robotics league, traveling sports teams, and summer camps to provide a well-rounded and memorable childhood.

Before you know it, your kids will be grown and many will head off to college. If your goals include assisting financially, you’ll be trading signing permission slips for college tuition checks. Whether or not you plan to help fund your child’s higher education, there are a few important things to know about college planning.

Understanding the timelines, costs, and savings mechanisms are all ways to support your child’s transition to college. And sharing this knowledge with them may be the best gift of all.

Know Your Timelines

SAT, ACT, FAFSA, campus tours, applications—many moving parts lead up to college move-in day. While every college hopeful will have their own plans and goals, there’s a general timeline many successful students have followed.

Begin talking about career possibilities during the early years of high school. The goal is to get their wheels turning to identify areas of interest and unique skill sets. Now is also the time to reiterate the importance of maintaining a good GPA and communicating its importance in college admissions decisions.

Your school will likely promote registering for the ACT or SAT during junior year. And college campus visits are a great activity for the summer before senior year.

Many apply to colleges throughout their senior year, noting any advantageous early admissions deadlines. Many also simultaneously apply for a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) review to learn about available government-supported grants, student loans, or work-study qualifications.

Understand the Cost of College

The cost of college can vary greatly between campus selection and academic goals. It’s important to align your expectations as a parent, your child’s desires, and the associated financial implications.

Here’s an overview of average costs across the U.S. for tuition and room and board.

  • Public 4-year university: $25,615 per year (*1)
  • Private 4-year university: $53,919 per year (*2)
  • Trade school tuition is highly program-dependent, ranging from $3,600-$14,500 per year. (*3)

Estimating the total expense is important as you review savings plans, student loans, and other financial aid options.

Saving for College

There are many ways to save for college, but let’s review the primary options specific to college planning.

One example is a state-sponsored tax-advantaged 529 plan. Through a 529 education savings plan, you can open an investment account with a pre-determined beneficiary. The funds are to be allocated toward tuition and room and board expenses. You can withdraw up to $10,000 per year, per beneficiary.

In many states, contributions are tax-deductible. And as long as funds are used for approved expenditures, the gains are also tax-exempt. Fees and taxes do apply for funds used elsewhere. (*4)

College is expensive, and as a parent, you are not obligated to cover your child’s college tuition. In many cases, student loans are used to supplement or cover the costs. While obtaining loans is simple, it’s advised to only utilize the amount required, which may be less than your child qualifies for.

A final college-specific form of covering college expenses is through scholarships and grants. Government-sponsored grants are available to those who meet income parameters and complete the FAFSA review.

And while applying to scholarships may take time, it may be worth the added effort. Scholarships come in many forms. Whether it’s generous volunteer organizations, schools, universities, or corporations, seek out opportunities specific to your student, region, or academic interests.

Share Your Wisdom and Start Planning Today

Even if you can afford it, requiring your child to contribute financially to their education is a great way to keep them invested (literally) in their studies. The college application process is a great time to review budgeting, the value of money, and interest rates.

Sharing your knowledge empowers your children to make smart financial decisions before drowning themselves in debt they later regret. And as college comes with a big price tag, even parents should lean on sound advice for college planning assistance.

Whether your little tike is off to preschool or applying to college, the financial advisors at Cypress Wealth Services are here to help you reach your college planning goals. To schedule a meeting with our team, please call 866.888.6563 or contact one of our offices today!


About Cypress Wealth Services

Cypress Wealth Services is an independent RIA firm providing financial planning and investment management to high net worth individuals, families, business owners, and institutions. Cypress Wealth Services comprises professionals with diverse backgrounds and extensive experience and qualifications. Cypress Wealth Services is uniquely qualified to serve a broad range of client needs, and their experience and expertise act as a foundation for their client service process. The firm uses The Second Growth, which focuses on efficiently protecting, growing, and transferring to their loved ones the wealth and legacy a person has already built. With financial advisors in Palm Desert, CA, Tustin, CA, and Anchorage, AK, the firm serves clients across the country in Wealth Management Services, Fiduciary Services, 401(k) Design and Management, Investment Reporting Services, Financial and Retirement Planning, and more. For more information, visit or call 760.834.7250.