College Planning

Preparing and paying for higher education

When it comes to paying for college, there are a number of options to choose from. Students can apply for financial aid, scholarships, loans or grants. As a parent, grandparent or legal guardian, you may even decide early on to start investing in a savings program for your child, such as the Gerber Life College Plan. With all of the available options to pay for a college education, it can be difficult for parents and their children to determine which plan is best for them. That's why Gerber Life online articles include valuable insights and ideas to help your family prepare for the college years. Our articles and advice can help you rest-assured that your child will be prepared for college and anything else the future may hold.

  1. Tax Advantages With an Education Savings Account

    Education Savings Account Tax AdvantagesA qualified education savings account usually offers federal tax advantages to participants. The key factors are “how much” and “how they work” for investors. While you can use any savings or investment account to plan for college, qualified college investment funds offer tax advantages that standard accounts do not.

    For example, a Coverdell Education Savings Account (ESA) offers tax-free earnings increases, if the parent qualifies. If the parent (or child) has “modified adjusted gross income” less than $110,000 (or $220,000 for joint tax returns), and your child is under 18, you qualify for these college savings accounts. If you only withdraw funds for your child’s education expenses each year, these withdrawals are also tax-free.

  2. Compare College Savings Planning Option Features

    Compare College Savings OptionsWith consistently rising education costs, college savings planning is a necessity. But which plan is right for you? Consider your financial situation now and in the future, the age of your child when you start, and then set reasonable goals for yourself.

     

    Federal Government Plan

    Saving money for college can be accomplished courtesy of the US government. Your Congress sponsors the Coverdell ESA (education savings account) plan for those earning less than $110,000 (single tax filer) or $220,000 (joint tax filers) per year.

    Although it has a modest annual contribution limit–$2,000 per student per year—withdrawals are tax-free if used for qualified education expenses. Qualified expenses include tuition, room, board, fees, and supplies.

    You’ll also enjoy personal investment flexibility, as you can invest in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and cash equivalents. You have no restrictions on the number of trades (buy or sell) you want to make.

  3. Parents Receive A+ for Getting Involved in Their Children’s Education

    Help Educate your ChildWhen parents are asked about their child’s education, the first thing that usually comes to mind is the school that their son or daughter attends. The reality is that while school plays an important role in what children learn, parents are the driving force behind how much their children achieve.

    Research shows that when parents are involved, students have higher grades, better test scores and increased graduation rates.

    As the school year begins, think about ways you can make this school year a family affair. Here are some suggestions that have worked for other parents::

    1. Hello, my name is… An important way to support your son or daughter is to get to know his or her teacher. Be sure to attend parent-teacher conferences so that you understand the teacher’s expectations. This will also give you a chance to hear what the teacher thinks are your child’s strengths and areas that need improvement. You’ll have an opportunity, too, to help the teacher learn more about your child’s personality.

    2. It’s time for homework. For many parents, helping a child with homework can be one of the most frustrating times of the day, especially if the child is disinterested or distracted. However, homework is an extremely important task that not only helps children practice what they are learning in the classroom but also builds discipline and responsibility.

    The American Academy of Pediatrics offers these tips to create an environment that is good for doing homework:

    • Give children a work space in their bedroom or another part of the home that offers privacy. Ideally, this should be a relatively quiet place with plenty of light. In addition, help your children to gather the necessary tools to complete their homework before they begin it.

    • Establish a household rule that the TV stays off during homework time.

    • Be available to answer questions and offer assistance, but don’t do children’s homework for them.

    • Take steps to help alleviate eye fatigue, neck fatigue and brain fatigue while studying. Close the books for a few minutes, stretch, and take a break periodically.

    3. May I help? Volunteering at your children’s school is a wonderful way to show them that you care about them and their education. Here are several ways that a parent can volunteer assistance: become a classroom helper, help plan or chaperone a field trip, attend school board meetings, or volunteer to speak in the classroom or at a career day.

    4. Get excited about what they’re learning. A great way to show you’re excited about what your children are learning is to ask them questions and listen to their answers. Help with a project by pitching in to gather the materials. Study with your children. Create games to help them learn. Put notes of encouragement in their backpack. Many schools and teachers also use the Internet to show what the students are learning. Visiting the designated websites may even let you know what the kids are learning before they tell you.

  4. Most Popular College Investment Funds

    Popular College Savings PlansWhile many people consider college savings plans the same as college investment funds, there is a difference. When you save for college using standard bank or credit union accounts, you receive a stated return (interest) at a disclosed rate.

    Technically, college investment plans generate earnings based on the performance success—or lack—of the college investment options you choose. You should also evaluate child investment options in light of the presence or absence of tax consequences for earnings and/or withdrawals.

  5. Where to Get Help for College Planning

    College planningCollege planning often seems like a daunting challenge when you hear or read about the cost of a university education. Unfortunately, college costs continue to escalate and projections indicate that those parents and students without college funding plans will come up financially short for education expenses. But, where can you turn for help with college investment plans? Here are some suggestions for college funding options.

     

    College counselors. Like professional career coaches, college counselors try to help students and parents navigate the maze of scholastic and financial planning needed to have a successful university experience.
    College investment planning funds. College funding options, like the Gerber Life College Plan, offer help and information along with programs structured to saving for college. With flexible options, you can plan for college at affordable investment dollars.