Like a swollen, flooding river, the costs  of college keep rising. The average four-year public university bill was roughly $80,000 for a four-year degree for in-state students (as of the 2014-15 academic year), according to the College Board. For private four-year colleges, the average four-year tab averages $168,000; tuition and fees at these schools alone have climbed 169% since 1985.

While the cost of higher education creates a social burden, it also seeds a financial planning opportunity. Advisors can play an instrumental role in guiding their clients through the college-planning maze by combining their expertise in retirement, tax and portfolio management with college planning advice. This guidance is especially important as many families go into debt to pay for school.

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