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The Short Answer

Dos and Don'ts of College Savings

Knowing financial aid rules is key, given the rising cost of higher education.

Question: I'm worried about how we're ever going to afford college for our children. What can we do to increase their odds of getting financial aid in case we can't save enough?

Answer: For many families, the cost of college has become daunting. Tuition, fees, and room and board at public four-year schools averaged $18,943 (in-state) for the 2014-15 academic year, according to the College Board, while at private four-year schools, the average was $42,419. Over the past decade, in-state tuition and fees at public universities have increased, on average, 3.5% per year beyond the rate of inflation. No wonder, then, that many parents are losing sleep worrying about how they will be able to pay for their children's college education and how much help they can expect from financial aid.

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