College students and tuition

Check out FiPath’s solutions for saving for college

Let’s face it, the cost of college is prohibitive to many. And we’re not only talking about Ivy League status. The College Board recently reported that a “moderate” college budget for an in-state public college for the 2011–2012 academic year averaged $21,447.

Students are on the constant search for new sources of funding. A company called FiPath, which offers online analytical tools to help create retirement plans, has come up with a unique option.

FiPath’s College Registry is a service that helps parents raise money for their child’s education.

Here’s how to use it: Sign up for College Registry for free, create a user profile, formulate an education savings goal and then share the profile with family and friends via an email platform. They can then contribute funds directly to the user’s account through a PayPal.

“The product concept came from our users. We heard repeatedly from our users that, as parents, they were most worried about saving for (and paying for) their kids’ college educations,” explains Ed Thomas, VP of Business Development. “They were also worried because, for many parents today, saving the amount per month needed to pay for college is unobtainable. We focused on the problem of paying for college and realized that the solution was not in each parent scrimping to save for college, but in each parent sharing their savings goals with others – friends, family members, etc. – who loved their children and wanted to see them be able to afford college. But dividing a large problem across many individuals, we’re making saving for college feasible.”

All transactions on the platform are free (with the exception of credit card fees, which are charged by the card companies).

The registry also allows users to determine the estimated cost to attend the top 130 colleges.

3 tips from Thomas on saving for college

1. Save early, save often. If you start when your child is young, you can really take advantage of the power of compounded interest. Even small contributions will snowball into a significant amount given time.

2. A little from a lot is a lot. You don’t need to get $1,000 (or even $100) from everyone you know every year to have a huge impact on your child’s college savings. A small $25 contribution each from a large circle of friends will quickly add up to a significant amount of money.

3. Just do it. Lots of parents aren’t doing anything because they don’t know what the “perfect” action is—they don’t know which is the perfect 529 for their child, or their exact savings goal, or the perfect savings plan. What they miss is that doing anything is better than nothing. When your child is 18 you’re looking at a college bill that’s higher than the price of your first house. Would you rather have $80,000 saved in the worst-performing 529 out there, or nothing saved at all?