I just had my first child about 10 months ago. I’ve been on the fence about college savings.
I paid for most of my own college. I worked all through high school and saved up over $12,000. That paid for my first year. I received support from my dad via a $300/month stipend. He also promised to pay for my senior year in full, but due to a nasty divorce and financial aftermath he wasn’t able to (he paid for my sister’s freshmen year). We had a major falling out because I was relaying on the money to pay for school and ended up having to take a high interest loan to graduate. Eventually we made up and he paid me 10,000 in installments to help cover it.
I think it is good for kids to pay for a decent chunk of their college, and the expectation needs to be set early so they can plan for it like I did. I think I will cover 50% of the cost of my children’s college and they will be responsible for the rest. If they want to plan and save or take loans, that is up to them.
Currently I have about $6k in a taxable account that I have “set aside” for my children. I add 40 bucks each month. I’ll probably up this amount once I reach some of my other goals in a year or two. This is not just for college, but a “just in case” fund. If something terrible happens to them, I want the money to deal with it.
I think 529 plans carry too much risk if you are starting while your child is young. What if the pass away? What if they decide college isn’t right for them? What if they go for a year then drop out to be an entrepreneur? You lose all the benefits of that money and have to pay penalties to get it out. Radical Personal Finance had a podcast about 529 that really made me think about the different options.
I’ve never thought about using Roth savings for college. I will have to look into that.