The Best Ways to Pay for College Involve Starting Young

College 529 plans vs. Roth IRAs: A financial expert shares what she wishes she had known when saving for her own law school and her son’s college. Taking her advice could put you years ahead of the game.

A young girl puts a dollar bill into a jar of bills and coins with a label that reads "College."
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Editor’s note: This is Part 1 of a four-part series “Financial Advice I Would Give My Younger Self,”  as a wealth strategist looks back at what she knows now that she wishes she’d known back then. For more, please read: Part 2: From Prenups to Pregnancy, Part 3: 6 Retirement Strategies to Start Young, Finish Strong and Part 4: Caring for Aging Parents Takes Planning Ahead and Patience.

At the end of most lectures I give, the moderator usually asks, "What else should our audience know?" I always look at the younger members in the room or on the screen and think — if only I knew this when I was your age.

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Alvina Lo
Chief Wealth Strategist, Wilmington Trust

Alvina Lo is responsible for family office and strategic wealth planning at Wilmington Trust, part of M&T Bank. Alvina was previously with Citi Private Bank, Credit Suisse Private Wealth and a practicing attorney at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, LLC. She holds a B.S. in civil engineering from the University of Virginia and a JD from the University of Pennsylvania.  She is a published author, frequent lecturer and has been quoted in major outlets such as "The New York Times."