Smart Ways to Save for College

The key is to start saving as early as you can -- and to take advantage of the tax breaks.

He makes a good salary but has no job security. She’s currently a stay-at-home mom. The older of their two girls heads off to college in five years. If the kids attend their parents’ alma maters, Princeton and Columbia, the family will likely need about $600,000 to cover tuition, fees, and room and board.

No worries. Michelle and Barack Obama got off to a good start on the college bills a few years ago, when they contributed a hefty sum to a 529 savings plan. These state-sponsored investment plans are among an array of programs, some with tax benefits, that help families (including the First Family) save for one of the biggest expenses of their lives.

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Jane Bennett Clark
Senior Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance
The late Jane Bennett Clark, who passed away in March 2017, covered all facets of retirement and wrote a bimonthly column that took a fresh, sometimes provocative look at ways to approach life after a career. She also oversaw the annual Kiplinger rankings for best values in public and private colleges and universities and spearheaded the annual "Best Cities" feature. Clark graduated from Northwestern University.