Should You Tap Retirement Savings to Fund College? There are three things to consider before dipping into retirement savings to pay for college. Share | Have A Question About This Topic? Address Thank you! Oops! Related Contents 18 Years Worth of Days The average retirement lasts for 18 years. Are you prepared to fill that many days? IRA Withdrawals that Escape the 10% Tax Penalty The list of IRA withdrawals that may be taken without incurring a 10% early penalty has grown. Retirement Plan Distributions There are a number of ways to withdraw money from a qualified retirement plan.