When adding in other expenses, the total tab can be more than $70,000 a year for undergraduates at some private colleges or even out-of-state students attending four-year public schools.

That, along with ballooning student debt balances, is enough to deter many high school students from considering college.

And yet, even when families have saved less than $500, low- to moderate-income children are three times more likely to enroll in college and more than four times more likely to graduate from college than those with no savings account, according to a study by the Center for Social Development at George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis.

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