Most importantly, Beloff and the others emphasize the need to keep the college and retirement buckets separate. "You can always finance college, not retirement," says Feirstein. Beloff adds, "You don't need every dollar saved on Day 1 of freshman year. You need to see how much you can work out of pocket."

Interested in building a college practice? "Create your own team of specialists," suggests De Fontaine. For example, find a local tax preparer who really knows education tax law. Also perform due diligence and ask for track records of success of any college planning specialists in your community who you may be interested in forming a relationship with, he says.

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