Parents struggle to pay for college as tuition increases

As college tuition continues to increase, how to pay for it becomes a bigger challenge, and for parents who are looking to help pick up the tab, having a plan can go a long way.

Financial advisers say the best advice is to start saving early.

But if you haven’t, there are still some practical ways you can help chip in for your child’s college education.

With one daughter already in college, Todd and Teresa Hase are bracing for the cost of No. 2.

“We’ll probably be living on Ramen noodles,” said Teresa. 


“I just keep telling them this just extends my retirement day,” said Todd.

Their daughter Ashley is a senior at La Crescent High School and said her parents made it clear early on what it would take to get a college degree.

“They kind of told me ahead of time the plan they were going to do. They pay one-third,  I pay one-third and then they pay another third that I’ll pay them back for once I make enough money. I knew that ahead of time,” said Ashley.

“We’ve always been very upfront with the kids. We’ve tried to lay it all out so there weren’t surprises,” said Teresa.

It’s an important first step financial adviser Mike Klauke said he is quick to recommend to his clients.

“I think the first thing you have to do is really sit down with your child and set a budget,” said Klauke.

Klauke said it’s also extremely important to start early, so you don’t sacrifice your own retirement.

“You don’t have as much time for your retirement, so when people come to me and say, ‘Oh, I’ll just take money out of my IRA or my 401k. I’m 48 years old.’ Well, in 14 or 15 years, you want to retire and how are we going to make that back up?” said Klauke.

While it’s ideal to start early, there are still some options for helping your child out if they’re already a junior or senior.

“Well first off, look at which liquid assets you have. What sort of cash do you have? Are there some assets you can turn into dollars that you can use for eduction? Secondly, do the financial aid and get everything you can. You may have to do some of the loans. The other is you can go into retirement accounts,” said Klauke.

While the Hase’s said they wish they’d started planning earlier, it’s a financial sacrifice that is more than worth it.   

“I think the big thing though is to make sure they don’t leave school with a huge debt hanging over their heads, so they get a good start in life or an easier start in life. If we can help facilitate that, that’s a good feeling,” said Todd.

Other recommendations Klauke gives includes looking at a variety of schools and not just having your heart set on a specific dream school.

Klauke said if your child isn’t set on a degree, it might be a good idea to start taking general education credits at a technical school to save some money before transferring into a four-year university.