HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Chantal Keli'iho'omalu, like many parents in Hawaii and the rest of the country, is unnerved at the prospect of paying for her children's college.
"How are you going to tell your kids not to go to college?" she said. "So we are just kind of closing our eyes and going with it and figure it out as we go."
Two of her five children are gearing up for college.
Daughter Tate will enroll at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in the fall, while son Jaimin will start college a year after.
The stresses are real, and ever present.
"I've had to pretty much close my eyes and take whatever loans are offered," she said.
Financial adviser Eric Fujimoto says paying for a child's education needs to be done with several factors in mind.
For example, if saving for the future puts too much stress on present finances, it could be counter-intuitive. Also, sacrificing savings in favor of spending can have positive outcomes.
When it comes to loans and taking on debt, some forms are better than others.
"If you're fortunate enough to have home equity, take a home equity loan to bridge that while they're in school," he says.
Eliminating existing debt is another way to finance college.
When a credit car bill is paid off, he said, what few hundred bucks that would have been the monthly payment can be used for tuition.
Above all else, Fujimoto says parents need to be proactive -- start planning early and take a hard look at all of your options.
That's good news for Keli'iho'omalu, but it doesn't relieve her worry.
"The research shows it pays off to have the degree," she said. "But yeah, paying it off is hard."