Erin Stawarz can easily call her parents to baby-sit or suggest toys for Christmas, but one topic remains taboo: asking them to help pay for their grandchildren's college tuition.
“They're saving for their retirement and are assisting in caring for my mom's mom,” said Stawarz, 32, of Cary, Ill., who has three young children. “I don't think it would be right” to ask for help.
A tough call to make, but it might be a good idea to consider, according to a report on soaring tuition.
Parents are saving less for their children's college education this year than last year, and more people have saved nothing at all, according to the survey by the Washington-based College Savings Foundation.
Estimating that tuition and board will increase 5 percent annually, the projected cost of college in 15 years will be more than $100,000 for a four-year public college and more than $200,000 for a private college, according to the survey. The nonprofit foundation has suggested some potential solutions for parents faced with the shock-and-awe of such crushing numbers. Near the top of the list is asking grandparents to help their grandchildren by trading toys for tuition help or starting college savings plans for them.
Sixty-five percent of surveyed grandparents say they plan to contribute financially to their grandchildren's college education, but parents apparently are not tapping this valuable resource, said Kevin McMullen, chairman of the foundation.
Last Christmas, Erin Stawarz's parents opened a 529 state college savings plan for the two oldest boys, ages 5 and 3. They make small contributions.
This year was bleaker than last year for college savings, according to the report, which surveyed 800 parents. Forty-three percent said they have saved nothing at all, compared with 27 percent last year.