This free online college planning calculator will help you to create a college saving plan that includes all of your children at one time (maximum of 6).
Simply enter the name, age, and estimated current annual college cost for each child, then enter your current savings, the percentage to be funded by outside sources, the rate of return, and the annual inflation rate.
The college savings calculator will then display two charts: One showing the inflated annual cost for each child and the year they come due, and one showing the year-by-year income and expense forecast.
Note that if you would like to calculate a college saving plan for 1 child, please visit the College Funding Calculator -- which also includes an eye-opening article explaining why college financial planning involves more than just setting aside money.
Like other types of financial planning, the success of your college saving plan is dependent upon two very important variables that are beyond your control:
Unfortunately fluctuations in these two dependent variables are impossible to predict with any certainty. Therefore all you can do when creating your initial college savings plan is to base your predictions on recent average college costs and savings rates (best guesses). After that you must continually revise your plan based on any unforeseeable changes in the dependent variables.
If you are serious about successfully funding college educations for your children I recommend you bookmark this page so you can revisit the college planning calculator on an annual basis and revise your plan based on what actually happened versus what you had planned would happen. I will do my best to keep the calculator updated with the most recent average college costs.
With that, let's use the multiple College Planning Calculator to calculate a plan to save for the college education of all of your children combined.
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Child Name column: Enter a short name or nickname for each child. These will be column headings in the results, therefore please keep the nicknames to 10 letters or less.
Age column: Enter the current age of the child. Note that the college planning calculator assumes each child will start college in the year they turn 18, so if you expect a child will start later than that, adjust their current age downward accordingly.
School Type column: If you want the college planning 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.
Annual Cost column: Enter the current annual cost of attending college based on which type you believe each child (and your financial situation) will be best suited for. Note that if you enter your own estimate the college planning calculator will assume a 4-year degree.
Total currently in college savings funds: Total up your current college savings accounts and enter the total on this line. If you have no savings, simply leave the field blank.
Percentage of costs funded by outside sources: Enter a number from 0-100 that represents the percentage of the college costs you expect to be funded by outside sources (inheritance, grants, scholarships, work study, etc.). Please enter as a percentage (for .25 enter 25%).
Estimated return on college savings accounts: Select the average annual percentage you expect to earn on the money deposited to your college savings accounts.
Estimated annual inflation rate: Select the average annual inflation rate you expect to see between now and when your youngest child finishes college (the annual increase in costs was 3.1% as of 2017, 2.4% in 2016, 2.9% in 2015, 1% in 2014, 2.9% in 2013, 4.8% in 2012, and 8.5% in 2011, not adjusted for inflation). Note that this rate will be used to inflate the annual cost of college from now until all of your children finish college.
Future college education cost: Based on the entered current annual cost of attending college for each child, and on the selected annual inflation rate, this is how much it will cost to put all of your children through college.
Total expected funding from outside sources: Based on the entered percentage, this is how much of the total cost you expect will be funded by outside sources.
Total of costs after outside funding: This is the total cost of putting all of your children through college, less the amount you estimate will come from outside funding sources.
Annual contribution needed to cover savings shortfall: This is the amount you will need to deposit into your college saving funds at the beginning of each year in order to cover the expected savings shortfall.
Monthly savings needed to meet annual contribution: This is simply the annual contribution divided by 12 months.
Interim shortfall: If this number is greater than zero it means that even though the annual contribution will eventually cover the entire cost of putting your children through college, at some point in the college savings plan you will need to subsidize a temporary negative balance (perhaps using a short-term student loan). In order to avoid an interim savings shortfall you will need to either increase the amount you currently have in the college savings account, or increase the percentage of funding from outside sources, or a combination of both.