This was rough for us. Our children were given savings bonds by one set of grandparents, a small Trust Fund (under $10,000, least you think I have "Trust Fund Kids" cuz I don't ) and some gifted money from an other grandparent. Our older children started baby sitting around 11 and working at 16 and saved part of that, and my husband and I put away what we could. But, being a SAHM with a small lactation business, we couldn't contribute much. We had counted on.... well we put our eggs in one BIG basket. Our area was going to be sold to a developer and although we'd lose our beloved acre of land and house, they price we had contracted for was..... astounding. We thought we had nothing to worry about. Our oldest started in Community College, and then the next one went to the same.... then the Crash of '08 and we lost more than $250,000 in house equity! And the developer pulled out of the deal, leaving our entire neighborhood under water with nothing to show for nearly 10 years of work. (Luckily the lawyer we were working with was going to take a percentage of the sales or nothing if it didn't happen, so at least there wasn't that to deal with.)
None of our children qualified for Pell Grants. The amount we were "expected" to pay for each child, when we had two in college at one time was more than half my husband's gross pay. I'm not sure what they expected us to live on. So, our children used the bonds and the Fund and the cash.... and then took out subsidized loans. It was barely enough and they couldn't go to my Alma Mater, (a private Jesuit Uni that they both had their hearts set on) but both did well as a good State school and lived at home to save on expenses. Our oldest one is finished and working and doing well, our middle one is in Grad School and has received a number of scholarships and Fellowships but has still had to borrow money. Our youngest is still in Middle School, but it looks like there will be more Scholarship money for her, we hope. Plus her bonds (fewer than her sisters as one grandparent has died who bought them) the small Fund and some cash.
Seeing as what my children wanted to do for careers required a Bachelors or Master's Degree (one works in advertising and even the small businesses she does web design for require "proof" of at least 4 years of college and the other is about to gain her MS in Library Science. One cannot be a true Librarian without a MSLS (Master of Science in Library Science) and that is her dream. She has a job as at a library, 4 days a week on Circulation and one day a week in Reference (real Librarian job) and will go full time on Reference as soon as she gains her MS in May!
It's been rough and we're not finished yet. Looks like the youngest wants a PhD so we have a long road ahead of us.