she has a savings account with a staggering sum of money in it

This works against her in the FA process, I am sure you know this. Money in your kid's name is considered at something like 35% available for college expenses (vs. 5% for parents). Assuming it is maybe an UTMA account? Since a true savings account in her name isn't really allowed in today's banking world. I think that still counts as a "kid" asset. You do have other options (eg, joint checking account with you as the lead name/SSN on it) -- gives them access to a debit/ATM card, checks, and gives you some options to move money around as needed if they overseas or at school or whatever. I can't recall if you can do then when they are under 18... but maybe you can.

Yes, Jon, "every penny". I don't count loans as part of that aid, obviously you end up paying those back (although Stafford loans have interest paid by the taxpayer until the student graduates from college, so even those are subsidized by tax payers). But all the grants have to come from someplace. You may not like how American universities choose to compensate or spend their money (hence consider McGill, etc. if you are happy with that format and quality of education for your kid, and feel confident that employers and graduate schools will be also). Some people do take that route. And even attending an in-state public university means you are taking a subsidy from the tax payers of your state (obviously we all pay taxes, and some of us may pay more than the subsidy our kids would get back -- but some of us don't).

The idea of saving 2/3rds of a 2nd-quartile income sounds noble

I think this is what the OP said. I do think "living below your means" is something to consider in order to save for anything -- college, retirement, etc.

Last edited by intparent; 07/24/13 08:01 AM.