A new survey from Personal Capital has found that 70 percent of Millennial parents (versus 48 percent of parents overall) say they would focus savings on their kid's college education over their own retirement.
However, financial experts warn this is a huge mistake. Accruing the funds needed to help foot the bill for a college education may be a worthy endeavor, but college savings shouldn’t come at the expense of retirement (for which there are no loans, grants, or scholarships).
You don't want to "derail your retirement for your child's college education when they can get a loan or scholarships," certified financial planner Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz told CNBC Make It.
Pew Research Center defines "Millennials" as those between the ages of 20–36 (this year). According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York Consumer Credit Panel, the average student loan debt for an individual Millennial is roughly $33,000.
Understandably, parents in this age group may not want to see their children end up in the same financial boat after they graduate, but experts predict funneling savings into a child's college fund instead of retirement will one day put the child in a more difficult spot.
Those who don't save enough money for retirement may end up relying on their adult children, which could end up being an even bigger financial burden than student loans, Schwab-Pomerantz explained.
Instead, the wise move is to help your child take advantage of scholarships, grants, or loans when the time comes – options not available for those moving into retirement.
Take care of yourself first
The study also found that Millennial parents tend to plan for helping out with their children’s housing costs -- 48 percent of participants said they would pay all of their children’s rent costs, and 46 percent said they would pay for a house for their child.
At the end of the day, Millennial parents should remember, “there's no guarantee the kids will take care of them financially or otherwise in their old age," said Lazetta Braxton, CFP and founder of Financial Fountains.
"Be upfront with your kids about how much you can realistically contribute towards college, even if the amount may disappoint them," Braxton told CNBC.
The sooner you have the conversation, the more time kids will have to figure out their own way to pay for college. Your kids might also be happy to know they won’t have to take care of you financially at an age when they may be juggling other financial responsibilities, like taking care of their own families.
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