It might seem like a long way off, but it pays to begin planning for the costs your child's education as soon as possible. The cost of education is easy to underestimate and, with prices rising all the time, the earlier you start preparing, the more options your children will have as they progress. Even if your child is older, it's never too late to embark on some sort of savings plan.
Before you begin to plan, you'll want to get an idea of what kinds of costs are involved. If you choose a private education along with university, you could end up paying up to £300,000 in tuition. Options like boarding school will make that price even higher. To understand what the costs might be when your child goes to school, it's useful to obtain information on the private institutions in your area and study their yearly fee increases. Even if you don't go private, a state school still has many associated costs, including school uniforms, equipment and excursions.
University has always been a significant expense for families - and, in the current economic climate, those costs are set to rise. In addition to tuition, universities carry other expenses - such as housing and maintenance.
While it's easy to worry about how to pay for all levels of education, there are a range of options available to help you and your children deal with the financial impact.
Choosing to pay:
Once you've established an idea about what kind of education you want for your children, you may choose to pay for it as and when the costs present themselves. Options available include:
Using your own income: if you choose to pay for your child's education using your own income, be prepared to face a financial sacrifice. If you feel you can afford this, make sure you have enough money to cover the day to day costs of your child's course - and face unforeseen problems like unemployment
Remortgaging: replacing your existing mortgage in a way which leaves you financially better off through lower payments or released equity. This approach requires detailed research and a close examination of just how much you will pay in the long term.
Loans: taking out a loan and paying back what you owe in fixed monthly payments suits many parents' budgets. It's worth thinking very carefully about getting into debt to pay for your child's education.
Choosing to save:
If you're inclined to embark on a savings plan to finance the cost of education, more options are open to you. These include:
· Stocks and shares
· Equity based savings
· Savings accounts
· Child Trust Funds
A savings plan is a long term approach but may suit your family's lifestyle and prove a more financial strategy. As with all savings plans, you should seek advice before deciding what kind of route you're going to take. Trust funds, for example, are available in a variety of categories and come with their own sets of requirements and regulations.