Withdrawing savings from an IRA is one option to pay for college tuition. But is it a good idea?
If you’re like many Americans, you face a variety of challenges every day. Most parents and some grandparents find themselves fighting a battle on two fronts: saving for retirement and college at the same time. This can be a tricky problem. Saving more money in one of the plans invariably leads to saving less in the other. Obviously you want to have enough savings to retire comfortably, but at the same time, to put your kids or grandkids through a quality college.
So where do you draw the line between taking from one to give to the other? And how do you plan successfully to find a proper balance that benefits both you and your children? That problem is highlighted by the question of whether or not you should withdraw from an IRA to help pay for college tuition. The general consensus seems to be: not if you can help it.
Generally you want to have a successful enough college savings program that you don’t have to worry about finding alternative sources of money for tuition. But with sky-rocketing credit hour prices and housing costs on the rise, it’s a more difficult proposition than it was even a decade ago.
But while prices have been increasing, so have opportunities to save. 529 Savings Accounts, Prepaid Savings Accounts, and Coverdell Accounts are just a few of the easy ways to save for college.
One advantage of an IRA withdrawal is that the money can be used for any qualifying educational expense. But, the disadvantages are obvious. You’re taking away from future retirement savings and you’re reducing the amount of earning power you previously held. You’re also faced with the fact that IRA contribution limits ($4,000 a year) can make it hard to restore your previous savings level.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to catch up. Currently, for people over 50, the law allows you to make extra contributions of up to $1,000 a year. While this isn’t much, it can at least help restore some of your withdrawal. However, just as college savings opportunities have increased, so have retirement savings opportunities. Part of a comprehensive retirement plan includes investing in various types of retirement plans, including 401(k)s and private savings. In addition, your entire retirement shouldn’t be too heavily anchored in one savings vehicle, IRA or otherwise.
No matter what you do, it’s usually wise to seek input from a financial professional. Withdrawing from an IRA to pay for college has a lot of unseen consequences that can harm your retirement plan and make your golden years a bit more lean. One of your best bets is to plan carefully for college as soon as possible for your children or grandchildren so you’re not forced to decide between retirement or college.
Barry Armstrong is a Registered Representative with Securities America, Inc., a Registered Broker/Dealer, member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through Securities America Advisors, Inc., A SEC Registered Investment Advisory firm. Armstrong Advisory Group and Securities America are not affiliated. He can be reached at 1-800-393-4001 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Securities offered through Securities America Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC and advisory services offered through Securities America Advisors. Armstrong Advisory Group, Money Matters Radio and Securities America Inc. are unaffiliated. Representatives of Securities America Inc. do not provide legal or tax advice. Please consult with a local attorney or tax advisor who is familiar with the particular laws of your state.
Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC and advisory and financial planning services offered through Securities America Advisors Inc. Susan Powers, Paul Hundley, Brendan Hayes, Kim Harris, Chuck Zodda, Representatives, Money Matters Radio, Armstrong Advisory Group and Securities America, Inc. are separate entities.