By Lauren Pastrana

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Whether your child is in day care or high school, chances are you’ve thought about college.

If your kid wants to go, will you help them pay for it?

According to College Financing Group, the average public college now costs over $28,000 per year, and that’s expected to climb by 6.5 percent annually!

It’s safe to say, it’s never too early to start saving up.

Today’s “Lauren’s List” has a year-by-year breakdown of how much you should be socking away.

  1. Birth – 7th grade: Great, you’re starting early! From the time your child is born, some financial planners suggest you try to invest $50 a month in a college fund such as a 529 plan, according to RD.com. Each state has its own 529 plans with different funds available, so make sure to choose the plan that works best for your needs.
  2. 8th – 10th grades: If you’re adding on to previous savings, good for you. If you’re starting fresh when you child is this age, a prepaid 529 plan, which protects against tuition increases, *might* be the right fit. It may seem young, but 8th through 10th graders can also start applying for certain scholarships, so keep an eye out for those opportunities, too.
  3. 11th & 12th grades: Applying for scholarships at this stage in the game is a no-brainer. And if your child already has a particular school or major in mind, they may find some pretty specific awards out there that could help them pay for their schooling. If you as a parent still want to contribute, you might check out the Federal Parent Plus Loan program. It lends parents the balance of any costs minus any financial aid. Fees and interest do come into play here. Also, look into Federal Pell Grants, which do not have to be repaid.
  4. During college: You may think the saving is over here, but guess again!  If you’ve been using a 529 plan, financial experts say you shouldn’t automatically stop making those deposits once your child enrolls at a university. You may still get tax-free money while your kid is in school; just check your plan’s rules about doing so.

Are you saving for your child’s college fund?

Tell me on Facebook or Twitter.

If you have an idea for a future “Lauren’s List”, send it to lpastrana@cbs.com.

 

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