Have you ever wondered how people afford sending their children to college? Sometimes the first child is manageable, the second is tight. And by the third or fourth child, it’s downright impossible. Today, we’re going to talk about how to set yourself up financially to send your children to college and afford that college tuition. 

The cost of college education has been rising at a rate that is significantly higher than the rate of inflation. Basically, that means that what it’s going to cost you to send your children to college is growing much faster than the income that you’re earning. But here’s the deal. If your income grows fast, that factors against you when you’re filling out the FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

We call inflation the stealth tax because we don’t see it on our tax returns, but it affects each and every single one of us. When it comes to the cost of college, not every family is going to pay the same amount of tuition for the exact same school. You see, it’s calculated based on four factors: parent’s income, parent’s assets, children’s income and children’s assets. So when it comes time to send your children to college, you want to make sure you keep those numbers looking as low as possible.

But the question becomes, how exactly do you do that? How do you set your family up in a position so that you’re paying the lowest legal amount you have to your to send your children to college so that you could get out ahead in the long run?

What you’re trying to do is maximize the amount of federal aid that you receive. And if you do that in so doing, you’re making your money more efficient. What we’re trying to do here is show you how to send your children to college with minimal impact on your ability to save for your future and with minimal impact on your current lifestyle.

But here’s the issue. Traditional methods of paying for college and saving for college are going to leave you pinched. Here’s a secret, 529 savings accounts count against you when it comes to federal aid application. So by doing the right thing and saving for your children to go to college because that’s a major capital expenditure, you’re actually decreasing the amount of aid that your family’s going to qualify for because you did the right thing to save for college. 

If it seems like you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. I got news for you. That’s the way they set it up. You see, everything that served you well financially up until the point your children are applying for federal aid, will work against you going forward after the application for federal student aid. 

No parent should have to choose between sending their child to their dream school and funding their own retirement. But unfortunately, that’s what it comes down to a lot of times in these college funding situations. Because you know what wasn’t factored into the FAFSA calculation? How much money parents are paying towards their own debt on a monthly basis. And clearly the amount of debt you have is going to impact not only your lifestyle, but your ability to pay for your child to go to college, especially if you plan on doing so without derailing your own retirement. There’s only so much cash flow to go around.

If you have a lot of debt payments, there’s only so much leftover at the end of the month. What happens is a lot of parents are forced to decrease their retirement savings at the time they’re sending their children to college so that they’re able to finance the cost of college tuition.

Here’s the solution.

You really should be looking at ways to make your money more efficient because the more efficient your money becomes, the better prepared you are to take on or tackle this increased expense of sending your child or children to college.

At Tier 1 Capital, we look at things through the lens of control. Are your financial decisions putting you in more control of your cash flow and assets or in less control of your assets? Whoever controls your cash flow controls your life.

No parent wants to stand in the way of their child pursuing their dreams but we see so many times where children have to make a decision between almost bankrupting their parents and pursuing their dreams.

So what are some practical steps you could walk away with and apply?

Number one is to look at where you’re giving up control of your money unknowingly and unnecessary. We call these wealth transfers. The five areas that we focus on are taxes, mortgages, how you’re funding your retirement, how you’re paying for your children’s college, and how you’re making major capital purchases. And let’s face it, isn’t college a major capital purchase?

Number two would be to build in flexibility to your plan. First, you find the inefficiencies, regain control of that cash flow, and then save in an area where you own and control. And the importance of that is the flexibility to send your children to college to pay for vacations, to pay for any expenses that come up, and then eventually also use that money to retire without the restrictions placed on accounts by the government for example.

Remember, it’s not how much money you make, it’s how much money  you keep that really matters.