What are other military families doing to plan for their children's college?

For example, are you: -Setting aside money in a regular savings account -Doing a Section 529 pre-paid in-state tuition program -Coverdell Education Savings Plan -UGMA/UMTA fund -Roth IRA -Trust -They'll get financial aid when the time comes. -Your sponsor's GI Bill (if so, how do you manage it for more than 1 child?) -They plan to join the military themselves and use their own GI Bill -Other (Please describe!) -Not sure yet... How do you plan using a Section 529 if you're a military family and may not be sure where you'll be living when you child is ready for college?


We've been setting aside $200/mo per kid since birth. Some went into an EIRA which I regret bothering with, some into the NY state 529 fund which does not restrict you to NY colleges and which is easy to transfer from one kid to another (but will cost a penalty if we just take it out for noneducation expense, and if we made any money on the account). The rest is just mixed in with our retirement savings in mutual funds. I have been putting it into CDs that will mature when they are in school as we got closer. Kid 1 went to state U on a partial scholarship- we have used up her EIRA and the 529 for both of them on her room and board. Because kid 2 might also- which would leave too much money in 529- we are using it up on kid1. We will use all of dad's GI bill on her if she goes somewhere pricey/no scholarship, if not Mom and Dad might go back to school on the GI bill. I feel a responsibility to put them through college since we are too rich for them to get financial aid. But I will not pay private school tuition for a private college I never heard of- they can go to state then! My big concern is fairness- kid1 did not want or get in to an expensive school- with the GI bill for kid2 we could afford a private college but I might still urge state U if it is not a prestigious place. With more than 2 kids I'd be even more definite about our price limits.
One thing that I think it's important to consider before you launch into college savings is your overall financial picture. Before committing to saving extra every month for your child's college education, make sure that any high-interest revolving credit (such as credit cards) is paid off. Get yourself into a viable financial situation, in other words. Once you've achieved that (and you have your emergency fund intact), I'd talk to a financial planner. They know the current fiscal climate and the tax codes, and can best advise you. The 529 plans can be great, but as you suspect, with kids who are likely to grow up in several states may not want to limit themselves to the schools in one state. I'm a big fan of Roth IRA's for many reasons. Many (if not most or all) of the tax penalties that you'd normally incur for early withdrawal are excepted for educational expenses. You'll want to talk to an investment expert on this. Just keep in mind (I don't know how old your kids are) that regardless of the type of IRA, the funds need to be in there for at least five years before you begin disbursements. I used the Montgomery GI Bill for school, and my stepson is using the Post-9/11 GI Bill to pay for his. I do know that you can split this between dependents, so you may want to look into that. With the current drawdown, there is no guarantee that anyone is going to get into any branch of service, so I wouldn't think that enlistment is a realistic college payment plan. Keep researching, and maybe call USAA and talk to a financial adviser (I've found them to be enormously knowledgeable). Good luck!

I think most 529 Plans allow the owner/beneficiary to attend college anywhere.  You might chech the website www.savingforcollege.com for more accurate/current information.  Good luck!