$1.7 trillion, that’s the amount of student loan debt carried by Americans.
And for parents planning for their kids’ higher education, they may be wondering if there’s a better way.
With student loan payments starting back in a month, and the cost of higher education weighing on families minds, saving money is crucial.
“The cost of higher education just continues to go up year after year. Now, California, you know, is different, I think, than other states,” Julio Martinez, the executive director of the ScholarShare Investment Board. “In California, we offer families a wide variety of options, whether it’s community college, a four year state school, a four year private school, so really, there’s a lot of opportunities for our families, some that are lower cost, some that are more, you know, just higher cost. right. so it’s important that families start thinking about the cost of what an education costs.”
A California based higher education savings program called, ScholarShare 529, has been helping California families save money for education since 1999.
“Our mission as a small state agency within the state treasurer’s office is to reach out to as many California families as possible and educate them about the importance of saving for college,” Martinez said. “But most importantly, take that step ultimately at some point in your life, to kind of just start preparing financially by saving…”
The program offers different options for families who may want to avoid student loan debt.
“Education is important so we understand why families would take on a student loan,” Martinez said. “But the thing is, if you start saving as early as possible, even if your budget is maybe not the greatest.the important thing is to just get started, even with as little as a dollar to open an account.”
You can use that money for any type of higher education.
“We’re talking about community colleges, technical schools, trade schools, you know, four year schools, graduate programs, law school, professional programs, even programs abroad,” Martinez said.
And if you find yourself with money left over, there’s an option to pass it along to other family members that might also be planning to seek higher education. Loans can also be paid with the money in this account.
“You could, with that money, pay down student loan debt if you have it,” Martinez said. “There’s no expiration date as eventually, you know, a lot of families may not initially go pursue higher education, but at some point in their life, they’ll catch themselves working for a few years and say, ‘maybe a degree will help me,’ that money will sit there and only, only grow over time.”