Start saving for a college education as soon as possible. The sooner you start, the easier it will be, and the more flexibility you will have when it comes to college choices.

Practical tips on how to get started:

1. Set Reasonable Goals.
Choose a specific dollar amount, such as the projected cost of public college tuition. Or choose to devote a fixed percentage of  income to future college costs. Having a clearly defined goal, will help in planning, reaching, and measuring progress towards that goal.

2. Start Saving As Soon As Possible
Time is your greatest asset. The sooner you start to save, the more time there will be for your savings to grow.

3. Make Saving Automatic
Set up an automatic transfer from your checking account to a savings account or your college savings plan.

4. Save Whatever You Can
 Get started saving, even if all you can save is $10 or $25 a month. Saving something is better than saving nothing. It is much easier to increase the amount you save after you get started.

5. Save with a 529 College Savings Plan
Section 529 College Savings Plans provide a tax-advantaged way of saving for college, similar in concept to a 401(k) or IRA. The earnings in a 529 plan are tax deferred, and distributions are tax free if used to pay for qualified higher education expenses. The parent, as the account owner, controls the 529 plan account, not the child. The money in a 529 college savings plan will have a minimal impact on your child’s eligibility for need-based financial aid. The Achieve Montana managed by the Montana University System.

 6. Financial Aid
Financial Aid is one of the avenues students use to pay for college tuition and related expenses.  There are many different types of financial aid.  Grants or scholarships do not need to be paid back , while loans do.