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Personal Finance

A College-Savings Checklist

Whatever the student's age, planning ahead is critical, and these five steps can help.

Note: This article is part of Morningstar's October 2014 College Planning Report Card special report.

Given the many different financial responsibilities on parents' plates--paying the mortgage or rent, providing food and clothing for their families, paying utility and insurance bills, saving for their own retirements, and so on--it's no great surprise that saving for college sometimes gets short shrift. Maybe you look at your depleted bank account at the end of each month and tell yourself you'll start later--after all, you still have plenty of time, right? But every day you put off saving for college is a lost opportunity to start tackling what, for many families, is among their most important and expensive financial goals. That's one reason why having a plan is so important.