Many parents are paying for college in ways that experts say aren't smart, according to the latest annual survey by Sallie Mae released today, MarketWatch reported.
In simplest terms, it's far less expensive to save than to borrow to pay for your kids' education, according to the 2014 How America Pays for College report.
Fully one in 10 parents borrow money to pay for their kids' college, the survey revealed - which is a mistake because "it's far cheaper to save than to borrow," said Mark Kantrowitz, the senior vice president and publisher of Edvisors.
Consider: If you start saving $200 a month for 10 years for your kid's college, you'll save more than $34,400; if you borrow that much to pay for his school, you'll end up repaying it over 10 years at a rate of more than $390 a month - nearly twice what you'd have to pay if you'd saved the money (this example assumes a 6.8 percent interest rate).
Kantrowitz said that if you have to borrow to pay for your kid's school, in many cases, you're probably better off with a Federal PLUS Loan with its fixed 7.21 percent interest rate, which only about 5 percent of parents use, according to the Sallie Mae study. Parents who do have to borrow shouldn't borrow more than they can comfortably afford to repay in 10 years.
The study also found that only 15 percent of parents use 529 plans to save for college, which is one of the smartest ways parents can save.