Dear Friends —

I am pleased to announce the thirty readers who will be receiving free copies of the “Family Guide to College Savings” by CPA Joe Hurley. Your first name and an excerpt of your letter (below) will tell you if you were chosen. Please be patient! Your books are coming from the publisher.

The response to this offer was tremendous and I read every email you sent. Some entries were eliminated outright because you did not include your post office address (naughty, not nice!).

It is clear from the tone of these letters that as parents you are committed to sending your child(ren) to college, yet are extremely worried about how to pay for this. One man described himself as “terrified” at the thought of having to fund his kids’ college educations — and he admitted he doesn’t even have children yet!

About a third of all submissions came from parents of children who are either already in college or close to starting. You described yourself as “petrified” or “in a panic” about how to pay the tuition bills you are facing. You were not chosen to receive this book because, frankly, you do not have the time to take advantage of the college funding strategies it describes.

If you fall into this category, please check upcoming columns. I plan to list suggestions on where/how to come up with college tuition money if you haven’t got years to save.

Regardless how much or how little you’ve accumulated for a child’s education you’ll find a wealth of information on Hurley’s website, http://www.savingforcollege.com. You can also order his books. Information on tax credits, can be found in his “Year End Guide to Education Tax Benefits.” Excellent information on this subject is also available on the IRS website, http://www.irs.gov .

Finally, as with any large financial goal, the key to having the money your child will need to pay for his/her college education is to start early.

Congratulations to the book winners!

Hi, Gail,

My wife and I welcomed Isabella Rayne Alexander to the world on 14 Oct 05. Sure, she's only 5 weeks old now, but 18 is right around the corner! Here's a quote from a seminar you gave:

"Men think more about sex than money. Women think more about money than sex."

Well, Gail, you’re right: my wife is worried about our daughter's future! I need that book so my wife will stop thinking about money, and as a result, start thinking about other things!

Jim

Destin, FL

Dear Jim — I’m glad to know that people sometimes remember things I say in my public seminars on financial planning. I don’t make this stuff up. As you’ve discovered first-hand, women really do think more about money than sex! I’m not sure Joe Hurley wrote the “Family Guide to College Savings” as an aphrodisiac, but, hey, whatever works! Enjoy, Gail

Dear Gail:

We’re responsible and thrifty,

Put ourselves through college (no gifties!),

With a daughter who’s smart,

We’ve got a GREAT start,

But a copy of the book would be nifty!

We do have a 529, as well as some other savings vehicle, and our 14 year old “feeds” her bank box regularly from allowance and gifts. We want her to be a stakeholder in her own education, but with the rising costs and her intellect, she’ll most likely be on the higher end of the tuition spectrum. The book will be a great reference guide for the years to come.

Robert and Laurie (proud parents of Kate, but not necessarily poets)

Dacula, GA

Dear Robert & Laurie —

You win the prize for “most creative.” I can see where your daughter gets her smarts!

Gail

Dear Gail,

I have two children, ages 4 and 2. My husband and I want them to be able to go to any university they wish, without money being a hindrance. My husband had his medical school funded by an Army scholarship. Although it afforded him a great education, he his still paying back his obligation as an active duty Army Surgeon for medical school he attended from 1988-92. (His 8 years of residency and fellowship didn’t count as pay back and he kept incurring more obligation for the training.) He has been deployed three times in our 7-year marriage, already serving two tours in Iraq. So my goal is for our children to have the choice of university without going into debt or a need for a scholarship. Should they choose to serve their country in the military, I would be proud, but I would prefer it be their choice, not a necessity because we could not afford to pay for their education.

Regards,

Margie

University Place, WA

Hi Gail,

My wife and I just adopted twins from Ethiopia. I recently started a small family business, so my income is very small right now and I’d like to use the book to find creative ways to save for our kids’ college years. We are both well educated and hope our kids will be able to attain a college education as well.

Thank you,

Jon and Maria

Stillwater, MN

Hello Gail,

Our daughter, Claire is 1-year-old, and we want to start planning for her and her future sibling's college eductation. The number of different accounts, rules, and varying options between different states makes the decision difficult. Please help with a copy of Joe Hurley’s “Family Guide to College Savings.”

Our kid(s) thank you.

Paul and Amanda

Newbury Park, CA

Hi Gail,

We have 7 children, 6 boys and one girl. (My husband came with 5 boys from his first marriage.) Our oldest son already completed his undergraduate education using scholarships and loans and the next son isn’t sure he will complete college. But that still leaves 5 children to go.

All the boys were being home-schooled by their mom and, frankly, their educations were inconsistent at best. We intervened for our fifth son (age 7) who is now enrolled in 1st grade. The twins my husband and I have (3 years old) will be reading before they turn 4 next September. I suspect that they will be like our oldest one and want to pursue education fully. But who knows?

Any advice we can get to help fund part of all of these pieces would be great.

Regards,

Michelle

Anchorage, AK

Hi, Gail,

We have a 17- year-old high school senior and an 8-year-old 3rd grader. Until the past year funds were VERY tight. We’re not affluent now, but our heads are above water and we need to figure out how to pay for the older child’s college years and prepare properly for the younger one.

Help!

John

Beaufort, NC

Gail,

I not only have two children that I’m saving for (ages 6 and 3), but I’m hosting a roundtable discussion for our neighborhood on the various ways to save for college. Our neighborhood has a lot of children and I suspect all of them will be college bound someday. I decided to host the roundtable even though I’m not an expert because I thought that the roundtable would prompt people that perennially put off their decision on what to do. Having the book would be an enormous help to our discussion.

Thanks,

Mark

The Woodlands, TX

Gail:

I need this book!!!!!!!!! I have three kids, ages 8, 5, and 3 and a bun in the oven set to pop next February. I’m already pinging about college costs!

Thanks,

Kathleen.

Peoria, AZ

Dear Gail,

I have a 15-month-old and another child on the way. We currently set aside a monthly contribution for each child and would like to research the best strategies for the contributions. Thank you,

Bill

Jasper, MN

Dear Gail,

I have 3 teenage grandchildren and the family income is below poverty level. There are 4 sets of grand parents but not one of us can afford to send them to college. I’m thinking that together we could start saving to help them if we knew how.

Thank you

Wilma

Stoneboro, PA

Hi,

My wife Paula and I just had our first child three weeks ago.

We are already trying to plan for his future and are looking at our options. Even though the University of Texas is a public institution, I'm sure it won't be cheap 18 years from now when our little one becomes a third generation Longhorn......

Mike and Paula

Dana Point, CA

Dear Mike and Paula,

First of all, congratulations on the birth of your son! I’ve got nothing against the U. of Texas, but if you’re still living in California when your son reaches college age, you might want to look in to that state’s university system. As a graduate I can tell you he’ll get a fine education; as a financial planner, I can tell you you’ll save a bundle of money compared to sending him to an out-of-state school.

All the best,

Gail

Dear Gail,

We have a 14-year-old eighth grader and a 7-year-old first grader. My husband and I went through some difficult financial times and we were not able to put any money away for college. Our financial situation is stable now, but know we have to make up for lost time.

Thank you,

Sandra

Hoffman Estates, IL

Gail:

This request isn’t for me; it is for my younger sister. She is a single-mother state employee in Louisiana with a modest income, and with daughters ages 3 and 10 years. She has recently been asking me about the Louisiana START program (the state’s 529 plan) and other college savings options, but I don’t know enough about those options to help her make good decisions.

Thank you,

Jim

Houston, TX

Hi, Gail!

We are always looking for new and better ways to save for college knowing first-hand how hard it is to pay back loans after college. My wife and I have 3 children ages 9, 6 and 4. We have made the decision for one of us to stay home with the children and live on one income. We have opened Education Saving Accounts and Grandma is helping by buying the kids bonds.

We are currently assigned overseas as civilian Air Force which give us a unique opportunity to save because for the next two years our housing is provided by the government. We want to maximize this opportunity by investing this money appropriately. After this we move back to the Washington, D.C. area where is very hard to live on one income, let alone save.

Sincerely,

David

Gail —

I have just opened two 529 accounts in the state of Ohio for my 7-year-old and 2-year-old. I am currently wading through all of the different investment options and the Ohio site is not all that helpful. I have been visiting other sites and using their "college savings calculators" to understand where I need to be directing monies along with how much risk I should assume given the differences in my children's age.

I would use this guide as another tool to allow me to make informed decisions so that I have the best chance of providing a college education for my children.

Jeff

Pickerington, OH

Hi Gail

I'm in my early 40's, and have 3 kids that I hope are college bound. The first one is only 3 years away. She’s a sophomore right now and we are hoping she'll get some scholarship assistance since she’s averaging a 4.0.

Our plan is to pay for 50% of her college expenses. So far we have $5K set aside. I was planning to sell some of my company stock to fund additional amounts, but I just don't think that will be enough. My daughter is hoping that the scholarship funds will provide her side of the funds required. She is hoping that hard work in high-school will have literal payback in college.

Our other kids are 13, and 10.

Best Regards,

Garen

Vancouver, WA

Gail,

My wife and I are just getting serious about planning for retirement and our childrens' education. Our kids are 9 and 4 — hopefully we can still get enough in there for the 9 year old. This book is the kind of reference we need.

John and Amy

Lexington, KY

Dear Gail,

I would love this book as I have two boys, aged 4. My parents did what they could to pay for my college, but I ended up paying for the majority of it, which had its own positives.

My wife and I want to save for our sons’ educations. Hopefully, with the help of this book our money would be invested wisely. Thank you for this opportunity!!

Sonny

Allen, TX

Gail:

UTMAs started before the tech market bubble.

Just had to replace the top of our house.

College education...priceless.

We need to figure out how to fund the educations after we pay off the roof, etc.

Greg

Lexington, KY

Dear Gail,

I could definitely use the book "Family Guide to College Savings". I have three children. A 20-yr old college student just scraping by to make tuition payments, a high school senior with high aspirations, and an eighth grader who is most certainly college material as well.

I want to begin intentional college savings (am recently divorced) and could use the guidance.

Thank you,

Nancy

Barrington, NH

Gail,

Oh my gosh do I need this book! My husband and I have a 7th and a 2nd grader. I myself decided to go back to school last year to get my teaching certification. I will be finished and ready to teach in 2 years. Not only do I not work right now, I am spending money on my own tuition! When I graduate, we will only have 3 years to catch up on saving for my oldest son's college.

I hate to admit this, but we don't have a dedicated college savings fund for either one yet! It just seems like the years flew by and the decisions are so complicated. I felt like since I didn't know what to do, it was better to just leave money in our other accounts. Now, college is almost here. The good news is that I will be working soon and will be able start putting money aside. The bad news is, it is still complicated and confusing and I might still put my head back in the sand about this.

Thanks for all the great columns!

Chris

Charles Town, WV

Dear Gail —

I would love to have Mr. Hurley's book to help us solidify our strategy for our three kids' college expenses. We currently have Coverdell accounts for each of them, and years ago we dollar-cost-averaged into our local utility stock as a way to save for college. However, with all the options available and the potential negative consequences of making a wrong move, it would help us greatly to study the information in the "Family Guide to College Savings." I am sure it would take some of the confusion out of the process!

Thanks,

Charles

Winston-Salem, NC

Gail,

This book sounds right up my alley. I have 2 children striving to be college bound. My youngest takes $13 from her $23 weekly allowance and saves for college. I would like to see her funds grow on a healthy but sound plan.

Krystal

Flat Rock, IL

Gail,

I have two boys who are 13 and 9 and we are trying to figure out the best approach to take in saving for college. Though we have just gone through a job change and used all of our savings, we still want our children to get to college and we need know the best possible way. Please send us a copy. We are going to read and re-read the book and more than that — we are going to put it into practice.

Tim

Plano, Texas

Dear Gail,

My husband and I just opened a 529 savings plan for our son about 2 months ago with our Raymond James representative. We started out with $100 ACH contributions every month, buying The Growth Fund of America – Class 529A. I would like to have a copy of your book so that I may find out if our approach is a good one or if we should re-organize while the account (and Cal) is still young. Also, to find out just how to work the balance of funds in the account, once we start to add other funds.

Thank you!

Liz

Rolla, MO

Dear Gail:

My husband is a pilot, just got hired by a better company, but is taking a 50% pay cut for the 1st year of probation. Our oldest daughter is a senior in high school, our youngest is 4. We could use the "Family Guide to College Savings" to help make decisions for her & for the 3 other children (ages 16, 9, 4) that follow.

Love your articles,

Gloria

Woodworth, LA

Dear Gail,

My wife and I are expecting this coming February, and I'd like to start researching what might be the best plan for college someday. Would like to start right away after the baby is born. Thanks for the informative articles.

Mark

Milton, FL

Gail,

We have a son who will be turning 1-yr-old next month. We are currently (and will be for several years) paying on my newly consolidated college loan. I'd like to ensure that my son (and any other children we may have along the way) do not have the burden my parents left me to figure out. Unfortunately, we haven't begun saving for our child's college yet; as such, I would like some guidance to begin that this next year.

Thanks,

Bryce

Warner Robins, GA

Dear Gail —

We're very concerned about getting their college paid for, but don't make a whole lot and don't know how to go about doing it without getting stuck with all kinds of taxes both now and/or in the future. We've managed to scrape together only $35 for each of our 3 kids' savings accounts... then we hear that this is not the best way to save for college.

I am starting a new job and we've decided to put more towards their savings but aren't sure how to accomplish it all. Based on your article (which helped already), it really sounds like we could use this book to make our dream of the kids graduating from college a reality.

Bethany

Moberly, MO

If you have a question for Gail Buckner and the Your $ Matters column, send them to yourmoneymatters@gmail.com , along with your name and phone number.