College costs expected to grow 80 percent over the next 18 years

(file photo courtesy Pixabay)

NEW YORK (NBC, WTHR) - Just what will college cost in 18 years?

In 2036, 18 years from now, four years of tuition at a private university will cost around $300,000, according to WealthFront, an automated investment platform. That's up from $167,000 today. Attending a public university will set you back around $184,000, up from $101,000 currently.

Financial advisors say that if you start saving at your child's birth, about one third of the money in your savings by the time they go to college will come from the interest your money has earned. If you wait until your child starts high school, that number goes down to less than one percent, and you'll end up having to save six times as much per month to reach the same goal.

Experts say it's a good reminder to plan ahead and start saving from day one.

One way to prepare is with a 529 savings plan. Indiana offers a 20 percent tax credit (not a tax deduction) for the first $5,000 you put into a state-approved account every year, giving you up to $1,000 back on your tax return each year you max out the benefit.

529 savings accounts can be used for your kids - or for yourself if you decide you want to go back to college as an adult. Learn more about Indiana-approved 529 accounts by clicking here.