College Fund Calculator to Calculate a College Saving Plan for 1 Child

College Fund Calculator Sign

This calculator will help you to create a college saving plan that anticipates the rising cost of college tuition -- as well as other educational expenses -- due to the inflation that is expected to occur between now and when your child graduates high school.

Specifically, this calculator will allow you calculate your present college savings fund's shortfall (savings gap) based on the rate of return you expect to earn on your education investments, and on the rising college costs percentage you expect to experience. The calculator will then take that shortfall and calculate the monthly amount you need to add to your savings in order to eliminate the shortfall.

Finally, the college fund calculator will also create a year-by-year summary showing your savings growth versus the rising college costs.

Note that if you have more than one child and you would like to formulate a college savings plan for all of your children at one time, please visit the Multiple College Planning Calculator.

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College Fund Calculator

Calculate a college saving plan for 1 child that accounts for the rising cost of college tuition and other educational expenses.

Special Instructions

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Selected Data Record:

A Data Record is a set of calculator entries that are stored in your web browser's Local Storage. If a Data Record is currently selected in the "Data" tab, this line will list the name you gave to that data record. If no data record is selected, or you have no entries stored for this calculator, the line will display "None".

DataData recordData recordSelected data record: None
Name:Child's name:Child's name or nickname:Child's name or nickname:

Child's name or nickname:

If you don't want to enter a real name for your child, simply enter an identifying nickname.

Save years:Years to save:Years until college:Years until college:

Years until college:

Enter the number of years between now and when you expect your child will start college.

Now saved:Current savings:Current amount in college savings funds:Total currently in college savings funds:

Total currently in college savings funds:

Total up your current college savings accounts and enter the total on this line. Enter as a dollar amount, but without the dollar sign and any commas. If you have no savings, simply leave the field blank.

Offset $:Offset amount:Amount funded by outside sources:Amount funded by outside sources:

Total you expect to receive from outside funding:

Enter the amount of money you expect to receive from outside sources (inheritance, grants, scholarships, work study, etc.). Enter as a dollar amount, but without the dollar sign and any commas.

ROI %:Fund ROI %:Percent return on college fund:Percent return on college savings accounts:

Percent return on college savings accounts:

Enter the average annual percentage you expect to earn on the money deposited to your college savings accounts. Enter as a percentage, but without the percent sign.

Inflation %:Inflation % rate:Estimated annual inflation % rate:Estimated annual inflation percent rate:

Estimated annual inflation rate:

Enter the average annual inflation rate you expect to see between now and when your child starts school. Enter as a percentage, but without the percent sign.

The annual increase in costs was 1.6% from the 2020-2021 academic year to the 2021/2022 academic year, not adjusted for inflation. This rate will also be used to inflate the annual cost from the base year of 2021 to present, as well as for each year your child is in college.

Type:Type:Type of school:Type of school:

Type of school:

If you want the College Fund Calculator to enter an estimated annual cost for you based on a recent college board survey, select the type of college from the pull-down menu. Otherwise, choose "Entering my own estimate" and enter your estimate on the next line.

Breakdown Based on The College Board's Annual Survey of Colleges.
Tuition and Fees:
Room and Board:
Books and Supplies:
Annual cost:Annual cost:Annual cost to attend college:Annual cost of attending college:

Annual cost of attending college:

If entering your own cost estimate, enter the current annual cost of attending college based on which type of education you believe the child (and your financial situation) will be best suited for. Enter as a dollar amount but without the dollar sign and any commas. Note that if you enter your own estimate the calculator will assume a 4-year degree.

Start year:Start year:Projected start year:Projected year child will start college:

Start year:

This is the calculated year that your child will start college.

Future cost:Future college cost:Future college education cost:Future college education cost:

Future college education cost:

Based on the entered current annual cost of attending college, and on the selected annual inflation rate, this is how much the selected college education will cost (total for 2-years or 4-years, depending on your selections/entries).

Savings FV:Savings future value:Future value of current savings:Future value of current college savings funds:

Future value of current college savings funds:

Based on your entries, this is the future value of the amount you currently have saved.

With offset:Savings with offset:Future savings plus outside funding:Future savings plus outside funding:

Future savings plus outside funding:

This is the total of the future value of your present savings, plus the amount you estimate will come from outside funding sources.

Shortfall:Savings shortfall:Savings shortfall:Savings shortfall:

Savings shortfall:

This is the difference between the forecasted cost of paying for your child's future college education, and the future value of your present savings and outside funding.

Monthly dep:Monthly deposit:Monthly deposit to cover shortfall:Monthly deposit to cover savings shortfall:

Monthly deposit to cover savings shortfall:

This is the monthly amount you will need to deposit into your college saving funds in order to cover the expected savings shortfall.

If you would like to save the current entries to the secure online database, tap or click on the Data tab, select "New Data Record", give the data record a name, then tap or click the Save button. To save changes to previously saved entries, simply tap the Save button. Please select and "Clear" any data records you no longer need.

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Help and Tools


Financial planning for college involves more than saving money.

Financial Planning for College Involves More than Just Saving Money

Having helped three kids through college myself I can tell you that if you really want to properly prepare for your child's post-secondary education, and insure that the funds you have set aside will be sufficient, you need to help them to discover what they want to do when they grow up.

Why? Because if your child is not certain as what to they want to study to become -- by the time they graduate high school -- you can almost bet that it will take them a year or two longer to get their degree.

College Financial Planning Spoiler: When your child spends 6 years getting a 4-year degree!

Or worse, if your child ends up getting a degree for the wrong reasons (because the field pays well, easiest route to a degree, etc.), you could end up paying tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars for a degree in a field they end up hating.

College Financial Planning Waster: When your child spends 4 years getting a degree they never use!

Therefore, in order to avoid over-paying for college or paying for a degree that is never used, your college financial planning should include helping your child to develop a clear and meaningful career path.

Help Your Child Discover a Work They Will Enjoy

In my opinion, beyond the normal responsibilities that come with raising children, the next most important thing you can do for them is to help them discover a work they will enjoy -- a work that is well suited to their talents, abilities, genuine interests, values, and personality traits.

This involves paying very close attention to things like ...

  • What do they seem naturally good at?
  • What do others most appreciate them for?
  • What school subjects do they excel at without having to be pushed and prodded?
  • What types of problems do they most enjoy solving?
  • What types of magazines or books do they read without being forced?
  • What do they spend their discretionary money on?
  • What extra-curricular activities do they enjoy?
  • Do they have a favorite hobby?

And remember, you are trying to help your child discover the service they will most enjoy providing to others, not a career that will make you as the parent happiest or proudest.

Form a Solid "Best Livelihood" Hypothesis, Then Help Them Test It

The goal should be to form a solid hypothesis as to what type of job or business your child would most enjoy by the time they enter their last year of high school -- preferably sooner.

Once a solid hypothesis is reached, the next step is to help them find ways to test that hypothesis in the real world -- without making a long term time or money commitment -- such as after-school jobs, micro-business ventures, or volunteering.

If your initial hypothesis proves inconclusive, form another hypothesis and test that one. Repeat this experimentation process until a satisfactory conclusion is reached.

Suggestions for Indecisive College-Age Students

If it turns out that your child ends up graduating high school without a self-actualizing career path in mind, my advice would be to encourage your child in one of the following directions:

  1. Enroll in an inexpensive online or local community college so they can work on their general education requirements while they continue their experimentation process.
  2. If your child is not interested in college, encourage them to learn a specific trade from a nearby vocational school. This is generally the quickest and most inexpensive route to an income level high enough to maintain the financial freedom to continue their experimentation process.
  3. If your child is not interested in any kind of post-secondary schooling, encourage them to seek out entry-level positions in the type of businesses they believe they would be happy owning themselves. Once they find one they truly enjoy, they can always get the necessary schooling in their free time.

Of course, no matter which direction you choose to encourage, you will always want to sell them on managing their finances in such a way as to preserve the financial freedom to follow their dreams.

The bottom line is that while some children are born with obvious talents and abilities (child prodigies), the majority are born with talents that are obscure and therefore require a process of experimentation in order to ferret them out.

Your goal as a parent should be to assist them with that experimentation process throughout their childhoods, and then encourage them to seek inexpensive ways to experiment in the real world instead of paying $25,000 a year (plus interest) to experiment as an unemployed, full-time college student.

Adjust Calculator Width:

Move the slider to left and right to adjust the calculator width. Note that the Help and Tools panel will be hidden when the calculator is too wide to fit both on the screen. Moving the slider to the left will bring the instructions and tools panel back into view.

Also note that some calculators will reformat to accommodate the screen size as you make the calculator wider or narrower. If the calculator is narrow, columns of entry rows will be converted to a vertical entry form, whereas a wider calculator will display columns of entry rows, and the entry fields will be smaller in size ... since they will not need to be "thumb friendly".

Show/Hide Popup Keypads:

Select Show or Hide to show or hide the popup keypad icons located next to numeric entry fields. These are generally only needed for mobile devices that don't have decimal points in their numeric keypads. So if you are on a desktop, you may find the calculator to be more user-friendly and less cluttered without them.

Stick/Unstick Tools:

Select Stick or Unstick to stick or unstick the help and tools panel. Selecting "Stick" will keep the panel in view while scrolling the calculator vertically. If you find that annoying, select "Unstick" to keep the panel in a stationary position.

If the tools panel becomes "Unstuck" on its own, try clicking "Unstick" and then "Stick" to re-stick the panel.