Should I stop retirement savings to save for college?


Q. I have two kids, 11 and 15, and I haven’t saved anything for college except for a few thousands they received as gifts over the years. I also know I haven’t saved enough for retirement even though I now put in 7% of my salary and get a 3% match. Should I stop the retirement savings to build college accounts, or is that a bad idea?
— Dad

A. College gets more expensive every year, so you’re right to be concerned about how to pay for it all.

But stopping your retirement savings probably is not the way to go.

Generally, it would be best, financially, to save for your own retirement over funding college education, said Kenneth Van Leeuwen, a certified financial planner with Van Leeuwen & Company in Princeton.

“Although it may be difficult to prioritize yourself over the kids, you can take a loan for education — not retirement,” he said.

On top of that, he said, it sounds like the kids may be in a position to receive some sort of need-based financial aid which could help offset some college costs.

“Having too much money saved in 529 accounts or other education savings vehicles may reduce the amount of financial aid they may receive,” he said.

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This story was originally published on Dec. 15, 2021. presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.