If you have eight children and want to get them through college, you've got your work cut out for you. Here are eight tips to help you get your big brood through college.
Your entire effort at getting your kids through college needs to start early. You can't wait. If you are even thinking about having lots of kids, you should be thinking about college early and often.
Save What You Can
Save all you can for your children's education. Saving will be difficult, and unless you're the CEO of a Fortune 500 company (if you are, I'm flattered that you're reading my article - congratulations) you probably won't be able to save enough for all eight kids to go to Princeton. In fact, you won't likely save enough to pay for their tuition to a local state university. Just because you can't pay for their entire education doesn't mean that you shouldn't be saving. Save whatever you can. Target at least $29 per month per child from the time they're born; that will give you $10,000 per kid when they graduate from high school. Not enough, but it's $10,000 more than nothing!
Be sure to put your savings into a 529 Plan (this is a state or school sponsored savings plan that allows your savings to grow tax free and is not taxed when withdrawn if the money is used for qualified education expenses). You are required to designate a beneficiary, but you can change the beneficiary easily and without penalty.
Share the Load
You will need to share the load for educating your children with them. Encourage your kids to work and save their money for college, too. They may be able to save as much as you do, doubling the cash available for college at the time of their graduation. They can also work part time during college and summers, allowing them to pay for more of their school.
Encourage your children to get good grades. If even a few of your children get large academic scholarships, that may help fund the other kids, too. Many scholarships are need based; with 8 kids, you may qualify even if you have a great job. Some scholarships are neither needs-based nor academically focused. Encourage your students to apply for at least a dozen different scholarships. Every little bit helps.
The American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit provide meaningful help to whomever is paying for the education expenses. The credits are at least partially refundable, meaning that you can get at least part of the credit even if you paid no income tax. Beyond the tax credits, the qualified expenses are also deductible.
Live at Home
I can only imagine that you're eager to get the kids out of the nest, but if you keep them at home through college, that will effectively eliminate a huge cost. Just be sure to make them do their chores.
Don't Give Up
By doing all of the above, you can make a college education attainable for all eight of your children. There may be nothing more important to their future quality of life than getting a good college education, so keep encouraging them and keep saving.
If a family with eight children can afford college for all eight of their children, you are almost certainly even more likely to pull it off. These tips apply largely to families with any number of kids, from one to 15.