Alternatively, some parents prefer to put the bulk of their college and retirement savings in Roth IRAs, since that money can be withdrawn without penalty or either retirement or education expenses.
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Given those caveats, Joe Hurley, founder of savingforcollege.com, says parents may as well try as many of the free rebate programs as they can.
Parents who don't mind the hassle, and are really disciplined, can take the rebates in cash and deposit them into their preferred college savings or Roth IRA accounts. Otherwise, to make sure the money is saved, parents can have the money automatically funneled into lower-cost fund options that Fidelity and Upromise offer.
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Updated on 10/20/2010: An earlier version of this story omitted some details about the rebate programs.