The cost of education has risen steadily over the past 20 years. This would include post-secondary education, but also private school and alternative schools. Since the workforce has become so competitive, more education has constantly been touted as the solution to assuring a good paying job. It is a moving target because the world of work is changing rapidly, and a degree of 5 years ago may be obsolete today. Since the cost of education has risen so quickly, the payoff from getting a good education is getting smaller and more risky. Interest on student loans is also getting more expensive simply because it takes longer to pay them off.
What Do You Need?
Given this backdrop, how do you save for an education? This could be for your child or for yourself, since many adults have to go back to school due to job market instability or career change. There are some key points to keep in mind. What kind of education is needed? If you have done your homework, you may find that education may not cost as much as you thought, or you don’t need as much schooling as you thought. Education is a very individual thing, so you need to know yourself or your child before you commit a lot of money. Narrow down what you would like to do and then research the alternative ways of obtaining the credentials you would need to get there. There is the option of a university degree, but there are also college courses, trades, designations offered an association, or volunteer and apprenticeship opportunities for obtaining the credentials. More jobs are requiring a license or certification, so part of the research would be to find out what licenses are available and what is involved in obtaining and maintaining the license. Some occupations have multiple licenses so it would be wise to target the one that works best for your situation.
When Do You Need it?
Timing is very important with education as with most things in life. The longer you can wait, the more options you have with respect to choosing what you want to do and saving for it. The trade off is that the more time you have, the more uncertainty exists because things can change over time. To get the most from education, it has to be easily upgraded and versatile enough to change with the times. It may be a good idea to start with a general course of study and then zero in on something more specific after you have worked in the field and know exactly what you would need to specialize further. If something changes along the way, the general degree is still useful, but the specialty can be changed to suit whatever is needed at the time.