EARNING A COLLEGE degree may be an enriching experience that sets you up for a potentially more interesting career. But it’s also a major investment, one that can pay off handsomely by making your human capital—your income-earning ability—more valuable. That bigger paycheck, however, likely won’t come cheap: If you have a newborn, you face four daunting financial tasks, which we tackle in this chapter.

First, you need to save for college over the next 18 years, while juggling other financial goals like retirement and buying a home. Second, as your teenager struggles with college applications, you get to struggle with the financial aid forms—and you’ll both be on tenterhooks awaiting the outcome. Third, there’s paying for the college years, which often involves a patchwork approach. You might dip into savings, receive some grant money, take out loans, get help from the grandparents and pay part of the cost out of your regular paycheck. Finally, there’s the aftermath, which may see your college graduate grappling with student loans, even as you pay off the money you borrowed.

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