College Funding – An Example

May 25, 2006

A couple of years ago, I created a college funding spreadsheet in Excel that I think is very useful. It is still a work in progress but is nearly complete. Anyway, I wanted to share with you a college funding example based on my spreadsheet.

College Funding for Baby Girl

For this example, we will assume this plan is for a 2 year-old girl who will start college the Fall semester in 2022. Here’s all the input information:

Input Sheet

I’m assuming a public college with a current tuition of $12,500 per year. I’m also assuming that the inflation rate for tuition is 7% per year, which is steep but I figure it is better to be safe than sorry. I’m also going to assume a 10% ROR on the investment account. Some would say this is aggressive, but I think over the long run, this can be done.

So, based on those numbers, the outcome for a lump sum investment looks like this:

Input Sheet

If the parents (or grandparents) invested $30,833 today and it grew at 10% per year, they could fully fund Baby Girl’s college education. The problem: who has $30,833? Fortunately, there’s another way to save for college: annual deposits, which looks something like this:

Input Sheet

So, this tells you that if you invested $3,494 per year and got a 10% rate of return each year, you would have enough to fully fund Baby Girl’s tuition for four years. This example assumes that you would not want to continue funding throughout college. I like this because there’s a good chance that there will be unplanned expenses during those college years.

So, what do you think? Was this example helpful? Here’s a link to the Excel Spreadsheet that I used. If you do download the spreadsheet, ONLY input information on the INPUT sheet. Otherwise, there’s a good chance you will mess up the file. Also, the file is unusually complicated. I’m sorry about that. It allows for input of up to two children and shows the expenses of the two combined. I think it is pretty cool.

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4 responses to College Funding – An Example

  1. Cool. But on the annual contribution, I think you probably assume a lump sum at the beginning of the year. The more likely scenario is a monthly contribution, and thus it will take a bit more time or a higher contribution to achieve the bottom line goal.

  2. That’s great. Why don’t you recalculate it based on more realistic investment conditions — 10% inflation and 4% average return.

  3. As a practical matter the annual payments could be extended through the college years. Also, although I don’t have stats to back it up it seems less snd less common for a degree to be earned in only four years.

  4. I love your spreadsheet, I’ve always been meaning to try to work on a spreadsheet for my finances. Lump sum deposits?All I can say is dollar cost averaging, and hope you are invested in the right assets.

    You might find interesting, they have an Education Funding Planning section that seems to be similar to your spreadsheet.