College costs are rapidly rising with no end in sight, putting a lot of pressure on parents and kids financially. But with enough time and solid investing, you can invest for college and ease some of that financial strain.
We asked three Motley Fool contributors for their favorite stocks to save for college and the answers ranged from education stocks to great dividend plays. Here's why they think 2U (TWOU -3.18%), Grand Canyon Education (LOPE -0.28%), and Brookfield Renewable Partners LP (BEP -2.24%) are ideal for college savers.
This company is powering online education
Todd Campbell (2U): Market-beating returns isn't the only way 2U could help send your kids to college someday. 2U's technology lets colleges offer online graduate degree courses, increasing accessibility and potentially lowering costs.
2U is working with 34 universities, including the University of North Carolina, which accounts for 10% of its revenue, and the University of Southern California, which accounts for 27% of revenue. Across all institutions, its technology enables over 48 online graduate degree programs. It also offers over 80 short courses online that teach professionals new skills.
It's a good business to be in. 2U pockets over 50% of a student's tuition and its contracts with universities typically exceed 10 years. Revenue grew 39% to $287 million in fiscal 2017 and sales increased 52% to $107 million in its most recently reported fiscal third quarter. For fiscal 2018, 2U's targeting revenue of $411 million, up 43% year over year.
Importantly, 2U believes there are still plenty of opportunities ahead of it. Management thinks it could double the number of programs it offers by 2021 as it partners with more universities. If that's right, then this company's revenue is heading significantly higher in the coming years.
A way to profit from rising tuition
Matt DiLallo (Grand Canyon Education): The cost of getting a college education has skyrocketed over the years, and is only expected to continue growing. That's forcing parents to save early and often for their children's future educational needs. One outside-the-box way to do that is by investing in a company that stands to profit from the growth in higher-education spending.
Grand Canyon Education (GCE) used to operate a for-profit university, Grand Canyon University (GCU), but those entities separated last year. GCU now operates the physical campus as well as the online school, which have gone back to their nonprofit roots. GCE, meanwhile, provides several technology and academic services to GCU in exchange for 60% of its tuition and fee revenue. Thus, GCE's revenue and profit expand as enrollment at the school increases.
However, that's only the beginning of what's ahead for this education technology company. Grand Canyon Education believes that it can provide these same services to other schools in the future. It recently took a step toward expansion by acquiring Orbis Education Services, which is an education services company that supports healthcare education programs at 17 schools. As the company continues to grow its reach and customer base, it should boost its revenue and earnings as well as its stock price.
Grand Canyon Education offers investors a unique way to help send their kids to college because they can invest in a company poised to profit from the growth of higher education. That investment could significantly increase in value over the coming years as the company builds out its services to other schools, making it a way to potentially supercharge your college savings.
Slow and steady wins the race
Travis Hoium (Brookfield Renewable Partners): Owning renewable energy assets isn't a high-growth business and won't garner a lot of attention from the media, but if you're looking to grow your assets to send kids to college, it's a great place to look for stocks. Brookfield Renewable Partners is one of the renewable energy industry's most stable operators, with $47 billion of power assets and 17,400 megawatts (MW) of capacity.
These assets spit out cash every year, and that cash is then used to pay a growing dividend. Long term, management plans to pay out 70% of funds from operations as a dividend. The remaining 30% is used to pay down debt or buy growth assets. You can see below that this strategy, over the long haul, has led to a steadily growing dividend.
Right now, Brookfield Renewable Partners' dividend yield is 6.5% and management expects the payout to grow 5% to 9% annually from organic cash flow growth. The growth means the dividend could double by the time your kids go to college, depending on how long you have to wait, and that cash could prove very useful given exploding college costs.
Building a portfolio for the future
These are three great stocks to consider for growth and dividends if you're saving for college. With time on your portfolio's side, they should help ease the growing financial burden on students and parents alike.