While college costs continue to rise faster than the level of inflation, parents and grandparents now have more tools than ever before to better afford this cost years before a child graduates from high school.To most parents, saving for their children's higher education costs can seem like a daunting task, which makes planning all the more critical.

In 2004, the College Board released a report that stated that most students and their families can expect to pay, on average, somewhere between $231 and $1,114 more for the 2004-05 college school year than they did in 2003-04 for tuition and fees. A 2004 CNN Money report stated that the cost of an average college education is rising at a level two to three times the rate of inflation. In addition, the average cost of a four-year private college is more than $80,000, and more than $40,000 at four-year public institutions.

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