(WTNH) – As parents send their students back to school, you may be thinking about how one day you’ll be sending them to college. The big question is will you be ready financially?

We are Stretching Your Dollar with a look at your options no matter how old they are.

Financial Planner Derek Mazzarella says there are three options he recommends his clients consider.

First, there’s the CHET Program, the state’s 529 plan. It’s money set aside specifically for college and you can decide how aggressive or conservative you want the investment to be depending on how old your child is now

Mazzarella also says there’s a tax benefit to consider.

” If you contribute up to $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for married filing jointly, you do get a tax deduction up to those amounts in the state of Connecticut for the state tax,” Mazzarella said.

The only catch? There’s not a lot of wiggle room when it comes to how the money can be used.

It’s definitely designed for college and at five years old, we don’t know if they’re going to college or not, or what their interests are so it’s challenging,” Mazarella said.

Then there is a “UTMA account” which is the Uniformed Trust for Minors Act and is more flexible when it comes time to spend.

“The real benefit is you can invest in anything, it’s liquid. And the first $1,050 in income this year is basically tax-free. The next $1,050 is a 10% tax so it you’re in a higher tax bracket, that could be a good option.:

He cautions the flexibility when it comes time to use it, and a big pot of money ends up in young hands.

Then there’s a regular savings account where you have total control and flexibility. It’s just not as tax-efficient as the other two, which is why Mazzarella says he recommends all three.

“In recommend doing a blend of the three because they have their pros and cons, especially with the 529 plan if they don’t go to college, there’s a 10% penalty on the growth. Plus you play taxes on it.”

Mazzarella says for 529 plans, parents also can transfer some funds to a Roth IRA if a child doesn’t go to college.