July 23, 2014 07:47 UTC


Saving Money for College

Read, listen and learn English with this story. Double-click on any word to find the definition in the Merriam-Webster Learner's Dictionary.

Friends and family greet students in the graduating class of 2012 at Princeton University following commencement ceremonies in Princeton, New Jersey, on June 5. More than 1,200 undergraduates were awarded degrees.Friends and family greet students in the graduating class of 2012 at Princeton University following commencement ceremonies in Princeton, New Jersey, on June 5. More than 1,200 undergraduates were awarded degrees.
Friends and family greet students in the graduating class of 2012 at Princeton University following commencement ceremonies in Princeton, New Jersey, on June 5. More than 1,200 undergraduates were awarded degrees.
Friends and family greet students in the graduating class of 2012 at Princeton University following commencement ceremonies in Princeton, New Jersey, on June 5. More than 1,200 undergraduates were awarded degrees.


Play or download an MP3 of this story
This is the VOA Special English Economics Report.

How much does a college education cost? In the United States, the College Board releases yearly reports on prices at colleges and universities. The group bases its findings on "published" tuition and fees, meaning the prices officially listed by the school. Students might pay less -- for instance, if they receive scholarships.
Nationally, tuition and fees at public four-year colleges and universities rose more than 8 percent during the academic year that just ended. The increase was seven percent if you exclude California. California has about ten percent of the nation’s full-time students in public four-year colleges.

In-state tuition and fees averaged more than eight thousand dollars nationally. The average total charge -- which includes housing and meals -- was seventeen thousand dollars. The total charge for students from out of state was thirty thousand dollars.

Tuition and fees increased four and a half percent at private nonprofit four-year schools. That was still higher than the inflation rate. The average was twenty-eight thousand five hundred dollars.

For-profit schools charged an estimated fourteen thousand dollars in tuition and fees. That was up 3.2 percent from the year before.

One way for parents in the United States to start saving for college when their child is still very young is called a 529 plan. The plans are named for the part of the federal tax law that created them in nineteen ninety-six. All fifty states and the District of Columbia offer them.

Private investment companies operate most of these plans, and each state has its own rules. Many plans are open to families from other states.

Five twenty-nine plans offer different investment choices. Families must decide how aggressively they want to put money into stocks, bonds or other investments that can rise or fall in value. There are limits on how much families can put into 529 plans.

Another choice is called a prepaid tuition plan. Parents can pay for an education at a public college or university in their state while their child is still growing up. But what if the child decides to go to school out of state, or not at all?  The money can go to educate another family member, or the parents can withdraw it and pay taxes on the gains.

There are other ways to save for college while also saving on taxes. One way is to put money for a child into what is called a custodial account until the child becomes an adult.

And that's the VOA Special English Economics Report. I'm Faith Lapidus.
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Dinh from: Viet Nam
07/26/2012 6:42 AM
we need try of best to graduate college.

by: bill wu from: taiwan
07/20/2012 11:54 PM
I don't know what means the sentence "but what if the child decides to go to school out of state, or not at all?".have anyone can explain this?

by: Kevin Xu from: China
07/19/2012 4:10 AM
The tuition and fees are still high for most of Chinese students. It may cost 1-2 years of incomes for a whole family to pay for it, if no scholarship provided.

by: Helenpham from: China
07/08/2012 6:45 PM
I'm very happy when seeing a lot students graduated from college . Certainly ,their parents are happy and their teachers are too.Their parents have to save money for them when they were in high school.They have planed in 401 k,bons or stocks .Four years in college how much money have they taken from their parents ? It 's a large money .Luckly when their children receive scholarships they pay less.Now they are very happy when their children graduated from college but they still worry about a job their children are looking for . I understand the feeling of their parents because i 'm in the same boat.

07/08/2012 4:20 PM
I highly appreciate your intelligent planning for your posterity. In today's highly competitive world, where even education is kidnapped and guided by money, such investment would work wonders. But we must try to detach education out of the means to make money. Such vaulting ambitions, I think, not only will prevent the best brains in poor families from coming to the top, but also, it will motivate the educating children to place money above human values. Thank you.

by: Mike from: Atlanta
07/07/2012 1:48 PM
Do you have kids you'd like to send to college?
I'm excited to announce that FiPath has just launched a new college savings tool called, College Registry.
Take a look. I'd love to get your feedback.
Link: collegeregistry.fipath.com

by: Daniel from: VietNam
07/07/2012 9:31 AM
thanks voa for this useful information. in fact, there are a lot of homeless man even don't have money enough for food and life cost. theire children must live under the living standard and get to a university is a further dream. Let's help homeless children and create the future with education for them

In Response

by: Dieu from: Vietnam
07/09/2012 5:42 PM
ara you living in vietnam, Daniel?

In Response

by: Mai from: Vietnam
07/08/2012 4:02 AM
Thanks VOA for this useful information. In fact, there are a lot of homeless men who even don't have enough money for food and life cost. Their children must live under the living standard and getting to a university is a far dream. Let's help homeless children and create the future with education for them.
(just want to correct you, you did so many mistakes)

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
07/07/2012 9:14 AM
Good, learning at colleges and universities. Good, can afford paying for tuition and fees. Good, scholorship.But, how if you don't have extra-money personaly? What if you don't have private nor pubric supports in your country? How if you aren't given any ability even reading or writing by nature? It's easy when we ask the purpose of learnig. What's the porpose of learning? I can't count the number of those who got costly, high educations but failed to live a happy life.We can learn from nature for free. The problems are in our sensation, intuition and sincerity to life what is given from something.Sympathy, sympathy, even toward enemies. What difficulties for us sympathy with giving sacrifice is! How petty hostility is ! Politicians who bring about wars, executives who gather profits to themselves, all are often highly educated person. What's the purpose of education in contemporary age?

by: Jean
07/06/2012 8:18 PM
It is the most important goal in my country that every child or youth is educated well, so we never make budget cuts on education. The tuition and fees at public four-year colleges or universities are much cheaper than in the U.S. Even private schools are much cheaper either. I know the comparison is not very fair. I just want to say we should keep education affordable for everyone. If kids couldn't choose to be born into wealthy family, at least we could give them the same opportunities to become great people. Thanks.

In Response

by: Igor from: Russia
07/08/2012 7:46 AM
Great! As I can see in your country you have a strong support for kids and anyone who would like to get education! My respect! And sorry for ask, what country are you from?

In Response

by: Umar from: Lahore
07/10/2012 4:58 PM
i see your collage.
but i can't see your collage.

In Response

by: Hanh from: Vietnam
07/18/2012 10:09 AM
Thanks for voa information. I also had a difficult life when I was a student. I worked many part time job to maintain life. I have graduated from university and i am so proud of about my effort.

Learn with The News

  • Obama LGBT

    Audio Obama’s Weak Poll Ratings Worry Democrats

    This is a congressional election year in the United States. Some Democratic Party candidates are concerned about President Obama’s unpopularity could hurt the Democrats’ chances to keep control of the Senate. More

  • Immigration Obama

    Audio Former Agent Blames Politics for US Immigration Crisis

    A former U.S. immigration officer says actions being taken by Border Patrol agents at the U.S.-Mexico border may be causing people to believe differently. The Obama administration says as many as 90,000 children might try to enter the United States illegally from Mexico this year. More

  • Kepler

    Audio NASA: Close to Discovering Life in Outer Space

    NASA scientists say they are closer than ever to finding life beyond Earth. That search is centered mostly on Mars and the icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn. But the scientists are looking for life outside the solar system. More

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri talk at the presidential palace in Cairo July 22, 2014.

    Audio Kerry: Hamas Can End Crisis with Ceasefire

    United States Secretary of State John Kerry says the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is growing worse by the day. But, he says Hamas can end the suffering by agreeing to an Egyptian-led ceasefire. More

  • Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, right, shakes hands with opposition leader Sam Rainsy before a meeting at the National Assembly in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Sept. 17, 2013.

    Audio Cambodian Rivals to Meet on Political Crisis

    Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and opposition leader Sam Rainsy are scheduled to meet on Tuesday, July 22. They hope to settle the year-long political crisis that led to violent protests and arrests. More

Featured Stories

  • Retired clinical therapist Doug Oliver discusses old times with Geneva McElroy at a senior center in Nashville, Tennessee. (M. Osborne/VOA)

    Conversations Finds Lost Memories

    Conversations about the past are proving to help senior citizens remember the present. These conversations are also helping them fight depression and feel better about themselves. | Health Report More

  • Heat Wave-Las Vegas

    Audio How to Survive the Heat

    Floods, storms and other natural events kill thousands of people every year. So does extreme heat. In fact, heat may be nature’s deadliest killer. | Science in the News More

  • minuteman

    Audio Nuclear Missile Site Turns Tourist Site

    The Cold War is long over. What do you do with a missile launch when a war is over? Turn it into a tourist site, of course. More

  • Pharsalia

    Audio Pharsalia Plantation Celebrates 200th Anniversary

    That’s old time American music to celebrate an anniversary -- for a house. Pharsalia Plantation is on a beautiful mountain country road in Virginia. You can understand why Thomas Massie decided to build the house there in 1814. More

  • Audio James Buchanan Wins Election of 1856

    The Democratic Party denies President Franklin Pierce the nomination and defeats two new opposition parties. More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner BlogConfessions of an English Learner Blog

Tell us About Our Programs