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Paying For college: When should you start planning?

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Greater Texas Credit Union can help you make college a reality, even if you haven't been saving.

It's spring - that time of year when colleges and universities start ramping up for the annual contest of which school will get which graduating high school senior. It's like an auction:

"We'll give you a $3,000 scholarship!"

"But look at us - we'll give you a full ride!"

"Hold on - we're the school with the most sports and social opportunities!"

It's a fun and exciting time for most graduating students. But for many parents, it only brings panic attacks, worries about their kids leaving home and questions on how in the world they're going to pay for it all.

That's why more and more parents are starting to plan ahead for their child's college education. After all, wouldn't it be nice if college application and acceptance season were filled with enthusiasm, excitement and the promise of new things to come for you, as well? A good way to get started is to look at an online college cost calculator. Taking a look at a realistic breakdown will give you a chance to estimate overall expenses for a particular school and will help you choose the best savings plan. Planning ahead, after all, can make a big difference.

According to the calculator at T Rowe Price, if parents start saving when their children are toddlers, they'll need to save about $205 per month in order to reach $215,000 (an average college expense) in 18 years. Parents whose children are only three to five years away from college will need to boost savings to more than $1,900 per month for a public school. If they're looking at a private college, it'll take more than $4,000 per month - and that can be a significant, if not impossible, sacrifice. Of course, another way to pay for college is through the use of student loans.

Greater Texas Credit Union can help you make college a reality, even if you haven't been saving. GTFCU offers private education loans and a financial advisor who can help you set up your college savings account. Call the experts at GTFCU at (512) 458-2558 to learn more.

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