I agree with the journal on this one, at least partially. Here is my thought: You should not have to take massive loans to go to college or to send your kids to college. I don't know what to say though. Assuming a 12% rate of inflation, for a child born in 2011 going to UT Austin in 2029, I would need to invest at least $2,830.72 per month to reach the goal with a 95% chance of success.
Based on your selection of Portfolio 2027
A $656,021.00 investment goal
A $.00 one time lump sum payment
An 95% success rate
Now imagine you are a 26-year-old who puts away five thousand dollars per year into his IRA. $5000 per year for twenty years compounded annually at six percent is $183,900. The cost to attend UT Austin for fall 2013 is $5,107 for the school of engineering. Let's round it up to $5,500 to allow some incidental cost. That's $11,000 per year. Now, if you plan on having a kid four years from now in 2017, they'd want to college in eighteen years, that is beginning 2035. Assuming a modest six percent hike in prices, you'd need about $173,405.02 for tuition. So basically, if you put away as much for your kid as much as you will for your IRA, you will at least be able to cover his tuition to go to a state school.