One of our favorite gifts to give our kids is the one-size-fits-all kind; money. Families involved in churches often ask their children to put 10% of those gifts aside for Sunday School offerings. Families planning to send their children to college could apply that strategy to college savings activities at home.
There is much to be said for including children in the savings activities for their college educations. Call it early financial literacy training. If parents and students saved that way for college with the guidance of a certified financial planner, it would take away some of the stress associated with paying college tuition when the child gets ready to enter college.
An important additional move is to interest your child in applying for scholarships at an early age and tie that activity to your child's future ability to choose where he will go. No scholarship applications = limited choices. Show your child how to search and how to apply. Make it a family hobby.
Whether you participate in a college savings plan that freezes tuition at today's rates and helps you save enough to pay it by the time your child enters college or you invest in an annuity or other savings vehicle, families need to have a regular savings habit designed to meet future college costs.
If it is too late for a long term plan because your child is very close to college age, make sure your child applies for scholarships and see your financial planner anyway for ideas that will be least damaging to your retirement.