For students fresh out of high school, college carries with it a world of possibilities. For the parents paying for that college experience, it also can carry a world of hurt—at least when it comes to the cost involved.
According to CNN Money, the estimated annual fees (in-state tuition, books, meals, room/board) to attend Boca-based Florida Atlantic University top the $22,000 mark. Multiply that by four years (or more), and it’s no wonder many parents begin thinking about college in the months after their newborns enter the world.
That’s certainly the prudent approach, according to Eric Glasband, managing director of wealth management and a senior financial advisor for the Glasband Stempel & Associates team at Merrill Lynch. With more than a decade of financial services experience, Glasband has helped countless clients over the years to develop investment strategies and prepare for the future, especially one that involves saving for college.
Glasband certainly is no stranger to such discussions; he and his wife, Lisa, are the proud parents of son Ethan, who is 3. The man who has been recognized byBarron’s as one of the top 1,200 financial advisors in America the past four years spoke with Boca Raton about saving for college.
When do you think a parent should begin saving money for their child’s education?
In today’s environment, you have to start the process from day one, as early as possible. The rise in tuition on an annual basis makes it very difficult to decide later in life. If you start the process early, you give yourself a better opportunity [to save]—and you don’t [have to worry about] timing the market.
What is the first step you would advise a parent to take?
College is planning. The first step we do is comprehensive financial planning, which includes an education analysis. … Is your child going to go to a private school? Public school? Some parents want to have additional funds available for grad school. You want to show the parents all scenarios, and then you plan for the college experience. Every family is a little different based on their situation, so there is not one perfect scenario. You have to figure out what is right and suitable for that family; that’s the key.
What is one of the biggest mistakes you’ve seen parents make when trying to save their money?
We believe the biggest mistake is not taking action and not planning for the future. We are firm believers in providing necessary information to assist clients in implementing their goals. You have to actually take the time to do the planning. Most people put it off. They will do it next year, they’ll do it in three years. That’s the biggest mistake.
What are some of the best ways to save?
The options that we are currently discussing with our clients are: Section 529 plans, Coverdell Education Savings Account (Coverdell ESA), UGMA and prepaid state programs. Depending on my clients’ needs, concerns and resources, we will align them with one of these options or a combination of these options.
What would you recommend for someone on a tight budget?
Flexibility is extremely important when it comes to education planning. Yes, they can still save, but there are always unforeseen situations that we cannot control. Sometimes simple solutions can be provided. … We work with our clients to adjust and be flexible throughout their situation. Maybe there a few months where you [have a particular challenge]. You save what you can, and then you get back to the plan as soon possible.
How would you suggest balancing college savings with other life priorities?
The first thing you do is the analysis, the comprehensive financial plan. Then you are able to prioritize. Once you go through the first step of our process, we will determine the importance of the college savings. … The age of the child is critical. If you have a 15-year-old, and you haven’t saved yet, that situation is far different than a newborn. … The end game is to hopefully help all clients meet their goals. There is no cookie-cutter solution. Each family is different. You have to do a customized approach for each family.
For more information on college savings, call Glasband at 561/361-3420.
Jackie Smith is a junior at the University of Florida majoring in public relations and minoring in leadership, who is interning at Boca Magazine this summer. She is a reality television fiend with an insatiable sweet tooth and a passion for all things beauty. Discovering new places and meeting new people inspire this Boca Raton native. You can reach Jackie at firstname.lastname@example.org.