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Ask The Expert: Is 8 Too Early Or Too Late To Start Saving For College?

Question: My daughter turned 8 this week, and I realized she has only 10 years to go until college — and I haven’t even thought about saving. What can I do starting now? What can I teach her to do as she gets older? Or is it too late and I should just tell her to skip college, since it’s so expensive now?
— Pilar in Florida

Howard Dvorkin CPA answers…

Howard Dvorkin on how to get out of debt fastCollege is still worth the investment, according to research Debt.com compiled earlier this year. (See Why A College Degree Is Still More Valuable Over Time.) Unfortunately, saving for college and securing loans has become as complicated as a doctoral thesis. That’s why I made you this video, Pilar, that explains your options in plain English…

Other college savings tips

Last year, a young woman asked me for advice about going back to college after graduating from beauty school. Much of what I told her at 28 years old still applies to your 8-year-old, Pilar — such as considering a less expensive two-year school before moving up to a pricier four-year institution, and investing in 529 plans, which can really add up.

As your daughter moves into high school, keep track of scholarship opportunities. Many are small, but there’s no limit on the number you can win. So three $500 scholarships can pay for a year’s worth of textbooks (which averages $1,146 at public schools). Also check out Debt.com’s extensive list of The 21 Weirdest College Scholarships Ever.

Finally, Pilar, remind your daughter as she grows up: Not every profession requires a college degree. While many do, if she wants certain jobs, she can get the necessary training outside of a pricy university.

Debt.com listed a dozen top-paying jobs that don’t require a four-year degree, and we’ll keep updating that list. Good luck, Pilar. You’re a good mother to not only raise your daughter in the moment, but also consider her future.

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Have a debt question?

Email your question to editor@debt.com and Howard Dvorkin will review it. Dvorkin is a  CPA, chairman of Debt.com, and author of two personal finance books, Credit Hell: How to Dig Yourself Out of Debt and Power Up: Taking Charge of Your Financial Destiny.

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