No one needs to be reminded of the rising cost of higher education in this country. According to The Columbian, tuition has risen between 6.6 and 19.0 percent each year for the past 10 years.

When a couple finds out that they are expecting for the first time, the tiny “peanut” inside mommy going away to college and the need to save for that day is probably the last thing on their minds. Perhaps understanding the ramifications of not saving for college will cause them to reconsider their procrastination.

Though establishing a college fund is often suggested to new parents, other expenses (such as the nursery, clothes, and diapers) take precedence. The common refrain of parents is that while they understand the importance of saving for college, they put it off saying “I’ll worry about it when the baby is older”. Yet, when that baby gets older, it is not as easy to save as one might think. The cost of raising a child goes up every year and this is not simply due to inflation. As a child gets older his or her activities become more expensive. A parent who delays saving and making preparations for a college fund will find that they will continue to delay saving until their child is in high school. By that time it could be too late.

If it looks like a teenager won’t get a scholarship or have a future that sees them becoming an instant millionaire in the NFL Draft, it is irrational to believe that the money required for a college education can be put together in just a couple of years. This means that a child will be forced into taking out a student loan.

According to NBCNews.com, a college student in 2011 had an average of $26,600 in student loan debt. This could have a crippling effect on their young lives. When they leave college and attempt to establish a career, home, and family their looming student loan can severely limit their quality of life as a young adult. Currently, according to Debt Consolidation.com, the average American family now carries $58,500 worth of debt. A good portion of that comes from college-related debts.

Though it is not something one wants to think about, plan for, or save for, establishing a monthly contribution to a college fund is the best gift you could ever give to your child.

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