Education Funding – Not Just for College

By FirstWave Financial

Depending on where you grew up, you probably experienced some form of temporary school closings during your years of primary education. For those of us who grew up in Florida, it was hurricane days. For others, it may have been snow days. While these were serious measures taken to help assure public safety, they were also kind of fun as a kid. Camping in your home without power as you waited for the storm to pass. Playing outside in the snow on a weekday when you would normally be in school. These interruptions were usually only for a few days, after which life went pretty much back to normal.

Back to school this fall has certainly not been back to normal. Most schools across the country finished the past academic year with distance learning, rather than in-person classes. Lots of energy and creativity has been invested by school officials and leaders over the summer break to come up with solutions to safely deliver the necessary learning experiences for the approximately 56 million students who are expected to attend elementary, middle, and high schools across the United States. These solutions are now being implemented in various ways to include:

  • Staggered in-person education sessions to reduce class size and help facilitate social distancing.
  • Live streaming of those in-person sessions for students to watch from home who cannot or choose not to attend the actual classes.
  • Home school resources for families to use.

To say this new school environment has been very disruptive to families is an understatement. In-person solutions may not be acceptable because of health concerns, but at-home solutions may not work either because of the lack of technology there and/or the need for the parents to work. This new environment may last for this entire school year or longer. Students and their families cannot simply camp out and wait for this storm to pass. More proactive actions must be taken that are unique to each family.

One of the top objectives we often hear when helping our clients create their WealthPlan is to provide for the education of their children or grandchildren. They know college will be expensive and want to have the necessary resources to take advantage of available options when that time arrives. This usually results in a college saving plan built upon the higher education aspirations of the family, using one or more of the tools created specifically for this purpose such as pre-paid tuition and 529 plans.

This pandemic has brought to light that additional resources may be needed by a family much sooner than when the kids go to college, maybe as soon as kindergarten or first grade. Are there resources available to purchase the computers and internet connectivity required to take advantage of online learning options?  What if private school or homeschooling is the best option for the family? Are there resources that can be made available so that this could be a viable choice? What about child care that would allow the parents to continue working while their children are home learning, or allow the parents to help teach their kids at home, whose ages may range from 3 to 13? 

Many families are struggling with these issues in real-time, without the benefit of planning for them, because just six months ago the world was very different than it is right now. Out of necessity, new and possibly better ways of educating our students are being tried. Some will survive beyond this pandemic and will likely profoundly change our educational landscape.  To take advantage of these opportunities it may require resources beyond what is provided by our tax dollars. 

If one of your objectives in your WealthPlan is to help with or provide the funding for your kids’ or grandkids’ education, you will want to consider their needs over their entire educational career (kindergarten through college). Families who can supplement what the government provides with their own resources to take advantage of technology, new teaching methods, and new teaching places will have more influence over the quality of education that their children receive.

We are grateful for the relationship we have with you and appreciate the trust and respect that we share. Please feel welcome to contact us for any and all reasons are we get through this time together.

You should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this publication serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from FirstWave Financial. A copy of the FirstWave’s current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available upon request.