A debt-free degree is possible, but you’ll have to do some homework.
Much of college loan debt can be avoided — attention young parents — if you start saving early and often. Yet some one in five parents with kids under 18 say they want to start saving for college, but haven’t done anything, according to Nerdwallet.
How do you jumpstart a debt-free degree? Here are four easy ways:
* Open up a 529 College Saving Account. Every state offers them and you can select “age-adjusted” plans that lower market risk the closer your child gets to 18.
* Research colleges that maximize grants and non-loan aid. Nearly every school will direct you to loan programs, but focus on grants and scholarships first.
* In the junior year of high school, do everything you can to find a “best fit, low cost” college option. That often means community colleges, which don’t charge room and board and have bargain tuition rates.
* Figure out how much you can reasonably save for their education: According to the Nerdwallet survey, “of parents of children under 18 who have student loan debt, over a quarter (26%) say they expect their children will need to take on student loan debt to pay for college.”
Debt is not a done deal. Plan ahead. Get grandparents involved in your savings plans.