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Special Report

College-Savings Boot Camp

Oct. 21-22: Get your college-planning finances in check with our practical tips and takeaways. Plus, tune in for Morningstar's annual 529 plan ratings report.

If you're a parent, you've probably read about those studies that estimate the cost of raising a child at around $240,000--and that's just until age 18. It doesn't even include the single biggest expense for many families: college, which can cost just as much, if not more.

A recent Fidelity survey found that seven in 10 families who expect their children to go to college have begun saving. But even though those families expect to pay for 62% of college expenses on average, they are on track to cover just 34%. Clearly many have gotten the message that saving for college is important, but the execution could be better.

Wherever you are on the college-planning timeline--whether you're just starting to think about how you'll afford to send your child to college or have already been writing tuition checks--chances are you have questions about some part of the process. Which college-savings vehicle should you use? What role will financial aid play? Should you take out loans? How can you get the best return on your college investment? Clearly, planning for your child's higher education can be a daunting task even before you save a dime.

That's where we come in. On Oct. 21-22, is presenting its College-Savings Boot Camp--a crash course, if you will--to get you up to speed on the things you need to know to make informed choices when it comes to college planning. Day 1 is devoted to saving for college, while Day 2 focuses on 529 college-savings plans.

Each day is structured around a list of four key questions college savers need to ask, each with a brief video (click on the questions below to view) and related articles.

College planning isn't easy. Some parents and students might even feel it calls for a college-level course in itself. But until someone offers one, we're here to help.

Monday, Oct. 21: 4 Questions to Ask When Saving For College

1. How Much Will College Cost, and Is It Worth It?

2. What Role Will Financial Aid Play?

3. How Much Can I Afford to Save, and How Far Will It Get Me?

4. What Are My College-Savings Options?


Tuesday, Oct. 22: 4 Questions to Ask Before Picking a 529 Plan

1. Does My State Offer a Tax Break for 529 Contributions?

2. What Makes for a Good 529 Plan? Is My State's Plan Good?

3. Which 529 Plans Are Best?

4. Which 529 Plan Options Are Best for Me?