Village of Carlisle

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We are only a few weeks into the new school year, yet many parents and students are already looking ahead to high school graduation and higher education. While students are busy planning which classes and activities will help bolster their chances of getting into the college or university of their choice, many parents are trying to figure out how they will pay for their child’s college education.

Paying for college can seem like a daunting task – the College Board’s Trends on College Pricing Report for 2009 found that cost of in-state tuition and fees at public four-year institutions averaged $7,020 for the 2009-2010 academic year and $26,273 at private four-year colleges and universities. Then add in room and board charges and the purchasing of textbooks and supplies – which together can add up to thousands of additional dollars – and the results can be eye-opening, especially when you multiply those costs by the number of years needed to graduate.

Fortunately, many students are able to reduce their college costs through scholarships, grants and other forms of financial aid. While in some cases financial aid is enough to cover all of a student’s expenses, most families will need to pay a portion of the costs out-of-pocket. To help encourage families to start saving early for a child’s college education, September has been designated as College Savings Month.

There are many different options to save money for college – parents can set up savings accounts or mutual funds in which to deposit money, or purchase U.S. savings bonds and then redeem them once their child enters college. Other choices include Coverdell Education Savings Accounts, which allow participants to deposit up to $2,000 each year that can be distributed tax-free later as long as they are used for qualified education expenses such as tuition or textbooks.

Families can also participate in 529 plans, which offer participants the ability to contribute to an investment account. The earnings are tax-free when used for tuition, fees, books and other education expenses and can be used at any college in the country. In Ohio, 529 Savings Plans are offered through the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority, an agency within the office of the Chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents. Information about Ohio’s 529 plans can be found at

The rules on tax benefits, restrictions, penalties and what constitutes as a qualified education expense may differ for each of these savings options, so you may want to consult with a tax advisor or financial planner to see which one is right for you and your family. No matter which option you choose, remember that it is never too late to start saving for college.

While the cost of a college education can be substantial, it is one of the best investments we can make in our children’s lives – providing them with the knowledge and skills they will need to compete in the workforce and setting the stage for their future advancement and increased earning potential. Whether your child is in preschool or high school, I would encourage all parents to take a moment to think about how to pay for their children’s college education and take the necessary steps to get started. It’s easier than you think, and the benefits to you and your child are many.

Please do not hesitate to contact my office if you have questions or concerns about any state-related matter. You can reach my office by phone at (614) 466-9737, by e-mail at or by writing State Senator Shannon Jones, Ohio Statehouse, 1 Capitol Square, Columbus, OH 43215. I look forward to hearing from you.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Ha, I made "too much money" to qualify for FAFSA, yet there's no way I'm going to pay off my college costs. Nothing like being in debt to start my life off, huh? Even though I'm doing things "the right way." The whole thing is a joke. I should just go onto welfare so I don't have to worry about my credit or anything. Maybe instead of welfare they should use that money to help ALL kids pay off college. Biggest myth, there's college help for everyone.

  2. Anonymous says:

    To anon- I once felt the way you did. You are a young person just graduating, it sounds like? Well, it feels overwhelming now, but give it time. Years from now, you'll look back, glad you went the route you did. I agree it's tough to pay off college, but study hard and get the right job, and you'd be surprised at how easy it'll be to relieve those large bills!

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