A College Savings Guide for Families
MEFA is thrilled to be a partner in the "For Their Future Movement," involving 49 partners in 29 states and Washington D.C. Launched in March of 2019, this partnership was formed on the basis of increasing awareness of 529 plans, which help families save for higher education, and lessen the reliance on borrowing. The effort marks the first time that state plans and their partners have united to launch a national campaign.
This summer, myself, along with 6 other parents (who also happen to be college savings professionals across the country) collaborated to brainstorm ways to help parents prepare for higher education, no matter the age of the child. These ideas were broken down by age-group – from infant to 12th grader – and have been published in a formal "higher education preparation guide" titled the Roadmap For Their Future.
This guide features age-specific ideas, ranging from exposing an infant to a parent's workplace, to going through the financial aid process together senior year. It includes guidance on college preparation, exploring career options, teaching basic financial literacy, and leading your child in each of these areas at every age.
As a parent of two kids, ages 22 and 18, I can say that without a doubt, this guide provides some great suggestions for families with children of all ages. The ideas are fun and interactive, two things that parents sometimes struggle with when it comes to teaching children about finances. Some of the ideas are real activities that my children and I did together, and others are ideas I wished I had thought of when they were younger. (How fun would it be to look back at my son's "What I Want To Be" book, now that he is a college graduate embarking on his first career?)
Some recommendations include:
- Asking "What do you want to be when you grow up?" at different ages
- Starting a "What I Want To Be" book to track career aspirations
- Creating an achievement board to celebrate areas of success
- Taking children to college events (basketball games, concerts, plays, etc.) to give them a taste of a college campus and environment
- Teaching your child about budgeting by allowing them to manage the monthly household snack budget
This guide is not meant to overwhelm parents; we simply believe that at every age, there are ways to equip a child for tomorrow. The ideas included in this guide are realistic way to engage with your child, and set them up for future success. I'm proud to share these ideas as easy ways to help families start these important conversations.
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