World’s Simplest College Cost Calculator

studentsBilled as the “world’s simplest college cost calculator,” this handy new app lives up to its name.

It’s definitely worth a look if you want a quick glimpse of what college will cost, and what you’ll need to save, for your child or grandchild.

The new calculator couldn’t be easier.  Located on the website, it asks for just one input — your child’s age — to crunch the numbers for you.

If you’re not familiar with the site, it’s one of the “go to” online destinations for college planning.  The brainchild of founder Joe Hurley, the site bills itself as the “#1 source for 529 information” and it lives up to its reputation.

One easy input – lots of output

Here’s an example of how the calculator works.  All you need to enter is the age of your child. What you’ll get back is a quick and dirty estimate of how much that 4-year degree might set you back.

For example, for a 4-year old child, the calculator estimates the total future cost of college at $247,265 (based on a current $25,000 per year bill), and says you will need to make monthly contributions of $698 to cover the full cost.

You can override the calculator’s assumptions if the school you expect your child to attend costs more or less. For example, if your sights are set on the University of Florida, a lower cost public university, the monthly savings goal drops to $559.

If you don’t intend to pay 100% of college costs, you can tailor the results to match your expected contributions. Plan to pony up only 50% of the total cost, and your monthly nut drops to $279.

Other features? You can input your own assumptions to reflect what you expect to earn on your investments, what you’ve already saved, and how quickly you expect college costs to rise in the future.

Have a quick $2,500 on hand to throw into the college savings pot?  That’s great, but you’ll still need to save $259 monthly, meaning your contribution barely made a dent in your monthly savings goals (sorry!).

The Takeaway: One of the best ways to get your college planning underway is to start with a good estimate of what college will likely cost. That will help you plot a realistic course and send clear signals to your child about what support he or she might count on from the Bank of Mom and Dad.

About Mari Adam

Mari Adam, Certified Financial Planner™ has been helping individuals and families chart their financial futures for over twenty-five years. Have a question about your financial situation? Ask Mari!

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