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As the price of university rises each year, many parents are nervous around the how they will pay for your child's education. It have the right to be especially an overwhelming to invest for her kid's college money when girlfriend have completing financial priorities, such as investing because that retirement or payment for immediate needs choose child care. 

You might likewise want your children to take on several of the financial obligation for your education, but at the same time you don't want them saddled through student loan blame their whole lives. Just how should parents balance these various priorities? Is it wise to select your child's college education and learning over structure your retirement nest egg?

Select spoke with note Kantrowitz, higher education expert and also author of just how to appeal for an ext College financial Aid around whether parents should prioritize helping their youngsters pay for college or instead emphasis on investing because that their own retirement.

Why you should prioritize a college money over retirement

Many personal finance specialists use the flight attendant metaphor when talking around whether to prioritize college or retirement savings: If you're on an airplane and an emergency occurs, flight attendants recommend you put on your oxygen mask before you aid your child placed on theirs. The idea is that parents should prioritize putting money towards their own retirement before they invest for your child's university education.

This seems favor a reasonable plan. ~ all, you can't take out loans because that retirement (though there is something dubbed a turning back mortgage that allows people to borrow because that retirement), yet you can take the end loans for college. 

However, Kantrowitz believes that the flight attendant analogy is misused.

"The fact is the these disagreements often assume the the debt is brushed up under the rug the someone other than the parental is walk to be paying ago that debt," claims Kantrowitz. "If friend assume the the parent is going to it is in repaying the parent loans, that is cheaper to conserve ."

If parents room going to it is in responsible for paying off some or all of their child's student loans in the future, they have to prioritize contributing some money to your child's college education and learning fund, also if it method putting less toward their retirement accounts. 

Ultimately, saving currently for college have the right to also aid you save more money in the log run. Any type of money that you invest now will knife interest, while any kind of money you borrow later you'll have to pay earlier with interest.

On average, every dollar you borrow for college will end up costing you double as much, states Kantrowitz. Paying off (or even just payment a portion of) your child's college student loans might end up costing you hundreds or hundreds of dollars that can have been allocated toward your retirement.

How lot student loan debt have to you take it on?

"If the parental aren't to plan on repaying your child's student loans, they should aid ensure the child boundaries their student loan borrowing to a reasonable amount the they have the right to afford come repay," claims Kantrowitz. "If the full student loan blame at graduation is less than their annual income, the college student should be able to repay their student loans in 10 year or less."

For parents who setup on paying off their child's college student loans, Kantrowitz recommends this basic rule: You need to borrow less, for all of your children, 보다 your linked annual income.

For example, if your household's combined annual earnings is $150,0000, and also you have three children, you have to not take it out an ext than $150,000 in college student loans, in total, for all of your kids (assuming they're close in age). By keeping the debt load low, parents should be able to pay off your child's loans in less than 10 years. If parents are closer come retirement (about five years out), they have to not take out more than roughly half of their annual income in loans.

When have to you make sure to prioritize retirement savings?

Kantrowitz notes that there is one circumstances where parental absolutely must prioritize your retirement, regardless of whether they plan to salary for their child's education.

"If her employer uses to match your contributions to your retirement plan, friend should constantly maximize the match, as that is free money, especially in terms of the affect on your return ~ above investment. It's a matching dollar because that dollar, and that's 100% return on investment right there," says Kantrowitz.

One account that can do both

While 529 savings to plan are one of the finest investing options for parental who desire to save for your child's education since of the taxation benefits they offer, there is an additional investment car to consider. Parents who want to prioritize investing because that retirement can likewise use money from their individual retirement account (IRA) to assist finance your child's college education.

Normally, if you withdraw investment gains indigenous an IRA (either a timeless or a Roth) before you're age 59 and also a half, you'll have to pay a 10% punish fee. (Note: You can withdraw her Roth IRA contributions beforehand without having actually to salary penalty fees or taxes.)

However, if you retract your investment gains native a Roth IRA that's been open up for five years or more, friend won't have to pay a 10% penalty fee or revenue tax if you're utilizing the money for qualified higher education expenses.

And because that Roth IRAs that have actually been open up for much less than 5 years and traditional IRAs (the 5-year ax doesn't apply to timeless IRAs), friend won't have to pay a penalty fee, but you may have to pay federal and state earnings tax for education expenses. Qualified greater education costs include tuition, fees, books and also supplies.

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If you're in search of one company that uses you invest accounts because that both retirement and also college, you can want to think about Wealthfront, which provides 529 to save plans, separation, personal, instance retirement accounts and a robo-advisor invest vehicle.