Brother Can You Spare Approximately $58,000?
We got a funny letter in the mail this weekend. It came to us from the manager of our daughter’s 529 Plan, and the basic gist of it was:
When TinyE is ready for college, private universities will cost approximately $250,000 for four years of tuition, books, room and board.
When TinyE is ready for college, public universities will cost approximately $160,000 for four years of tuition, books, room and board.
At our current pace, we will fall short of both. They were kind enough to project how much we would have if we continue to invest at the present level. But I’m not discouraged by our progress. Especially since she will probably win a full ride academic and/or athletic scholarship.
Our manger advised that we have the following options:
1. Make a one-time investment today of $58,000 to get the necessary money for the four years of expense at a private university.
2. Make a one-time investment today of $46,000 to get the necessary money for the four years of expense at a public university.
3. Increase our annual investment by $4,800 and $3,600 for private and public university (respectively).
4. Increase our monthly investment by $400 and $300 for private and public university (respectively).*
Included within the mailer were three deposit slips – one for us (I presume) and one for each set of grandparent(s).
And all I could think was: if I had $58,000 just burning a hole in my pocket I probably wouldn’t have a 529 plan at all. If I could come up with $58k right now, I’m sure that 15 years from now $250,000 would be chump change.
And before you even take me seriously, yes I realize that it would probably be better to set aside the $58k now, but…if what I read about the finances of the average American family is true, well then, it’s very hard to send a letter asking for $58,000 without it being a little tongue in cheek.** And, for the record, Mrs. Duf and I don’t have $58k to devote to the fund at this time (if we did, we would). I read recently that if a family must choose, it should save for retirement and not for college because one can borrow money for college, but one cannot borrow money for retirement.
*I’m working from memory on all these, but I’m in the ball park, and you get the general idea.
**We had a wonderful weekend, and one of the things we did was attend a local preparatory school’s production of “The Secret Garden” – our nephew*** had a prominent role. The school is, if not the best, one of the best in the state, if not the Upper Midwest. It’s a feeder in all the admirable ways a school can be a feeder. Each year it matriculates the children of industry captains, executives, local celebrities, professionals and heirs to outrageous fortunes (as well as kids from middle class homes who are wise enough to apply and benefit from tuition assistance). It was fascinating to me to enjoy the wonderful play while thinking about the future of all these amazing kids. They are off to a tremendous start. They are getting a world-class education, and, for many of them, college tuition is not a concern. For us, however, it is. Anyway, God bless them all; everyone has blessings and burdens.
***One of my favorite things about my nephew, besides his hair****, is that whenever he introduces me to his friends, he always introduces me as his uncle without even the smallest hint, or even a detectable trace of irony or self-consciousness. And that means the world to me. You know his parents are doing something right.
****He’s beginning an Oedipal disregard for his father.*****
*****And his father reads my blog and…well, that makes me a little self-conscious while writing this whole thing.