Researching and planning for your toddler’s first school? Well, don’t stop just there.

With the cost of education rapidly rising in the UAE, you might want to consider planning way ahead into the future and creating a fund for your little one’s university education as well.

A 2016 study by Zurich Life shows that nothing less than a pot of AED 1 million will be enough to see your kid through degree education. And this figure includes only the course cost. It does not account for the price of books, uniforms or trips, which could further increase the total expense by 40 percent for top-level schools. Additionally, a report by the Dubai Statistics Centre reflects an increase of 5.9 percent in education fees in 2016 alone – all combined, the overall educational costs soar dizzyingly high.

[Related: Education ‘a huge expense’ for UAE families]

Parents who don’t plan well could be in for a rude shock, falling way short of the required corpus when your child is ready for college.

So when and where do you start? The answer to that would be – Yesterday and with a lot of planning! An early start gets you as close as possible to your dreams for your child’s higher education. It will be the benchmark from where the factors below will be decided:

How long to invest?

Typically, education plans are medium term to long term. If your child is 3-4 years old, you get a good 13-14 years to save and the multiplier effect in the power of compounding works to your advantage. However, if your child is a little older, you get a shorter saving period. To create a similar fund value you will have to invest a higher amount and the risk level will have to be lowered.

What to invest in?

There are plenty of child savings plans available in the UAE. Depending on the investment tenure you need and your risk appetite, these plans will invest your money into different asset classes. Looking to take on higher risk? You could invest a bigger chunk of your money into equities, which are volatile but offer the potential to bring higher returns. Want to play it safe? You can opt for monthly income plans that invest in bonds or fixed interest products.

How frequent are the payments?

Based on your choices above, your financial planner can offer you products that require contributions to be made on a monthly, quarterly, semi-annual or annual basis. Some also have the option of a single payment.

What are the options available?

Many insurance providers, and banks in partnership with insurance companies have child savings plans that you can look into. Here’s a look at some examples of such saving schemes:

Plan Provider Details
EduCare Full term & EduCare Limited term RAKBANK with Orient Insurance PJSC Term length is flexible from between 5-30 years for full term plan and 8-30 for limited term. Payment frequency can be monthly, quarterly, half yearly or yearly. You can withdraw from the fund before maturity post the second year.
Educare MetLife You can choose any term between 5 to 18 years. You can make single lump sum payments or pay in installments from 5-10 years.
Wealth Accumulation Plan and Invest Plus Citibank in partnership with Zurich International Life Term options from 5-15 years. Payment options include monthly, quarterly, half yearly and yearly. Option to withdraw partially available.

Other options include the savings plans from ADCB and HSBC which are flexible and customized for you by your relationship manager. Before you settle for one, be sure to compare your options and read the small print.

[Related: Increasing school fees? Here’s what can help]