Where should you invest college money? Stocks? Bonds? Well, the longer the time period until you'll need the money, the more risk you can take. Here's a typical set of guidelines that some financial planners might offer you:

  • Birth to School Age: 100% growth stocks. You have more time, you can take more risk.
  • Age 6 to 13: You might want to think about making a few more "prudent" selections. 70% stocks, 30% bonds.
  • Age 14-18: You want things to continue to grow, but you also want to protect yourself from market volatility. Consider 30% bonds, 20% stocks, and 50% money market funds.
  • College Age: You want to be able to access the money easily and not have it drop in value. Consider putting the vast majority of it into a safe, interest-bearing account like a money market fund. For funds earmarked to be spent a year or two down the road, certificates of deposit are a good idea.

There's a lot to know about how to save for and pay for college. Drop by our newly revised Paying for College center. These additional resources might also be of interest: the U.S. Department of Education, the Student Guide, www.finaid.org, the College Board, Peterson's, Campus Tours, the Fool's college planning area, The 529 Plan Guide, and Mapping Your Future.

If you wish you had a financial pro to talk to, to address your specific personal situation and help ensure that you're saving enough and well enough to meet all your needs, then read more about TMF Money Advisor. It's a valuable new service we're offering, featuring customized independent advice from a variety of objective financial pros.

To learn more about investing Foolishly and how the business world works, visit our Fool School and our Investing Basics area. Or check out some of our inexpensive and well-regarded online how-to guides (which feature money-back guarantees). You can also learn all about brokerages and find one that's right for you in our Broker Center. (Did you know that some well-regarded brokerages are offering commissions as low as $5?)