Posted by Valley Financial Group & Billy Wolfe Jr.

Close that beach umbrella up, fold the chairs and put away the Wiffleball and Frisbee, for that bittersweet time has come. Hanging up your sandals at the end of a memorable summer can be saddening, but the beginning of a new school year brings a plethora of new challenges and opportunities for all of us. For the younger ones among us, it’s the transition to a new, more difficult year of school, whether it is at an elementary, middle or high school. For others a bit older, it’s their last year of high school, within which they will need to make what is most likely the hardest decision of their life to date, where do I go to school? 

With student loan debt's following college higher now than ever before, and showing no signs of slowing, choosing a college, now more than ever, is a financial decision. According to studentloanhero.com, the average college graduate in the class of 2016 will be $37,187 in debt from student loans from the moment they graduate, an average which is the highest of all time. Another deciding factor in choosing a school is deciding what you want to be. In its most recent survey, the National Association of Colleges and Employers, http://time.com/money/3829776/heres-what-the-average-grad-makes-right-outof-college/, found the fields with the highest average starting salaries for college graduates are engineering ($64,891), computer science ($61,321), and math/science ($55,087). Now, fast forward a few years in your life. Time at the shore with your friends and family is just as meaningful as ever, but hanging up your sandals means something different entirely. Instead of trading your flip-flops for school shoes, you are headed back to work, earning money to put towards your children's education. Once again, now more than ever, it is imperatively important to plan as the average cost of tuition is skyrocketing. From www.collegedata.com the children born this year who will be attending college in 18 years, the average cost of a 4-year degree is projected to total $442,697.85, compared to today's average cost at "only" $134,600 for a private institution and $39,400 for a public in-state college. This gradual increase of roughly 5-7% per year only adds more emphasis to the importance of saving for your children's higher education well in advance. And finally for those of us who have saved the money, made the payments for their children’s' education and have traded in those work shoes for a pair of permanent sandals, give your kids our number, cause they just might need it.