Grandparents often want to do whatever they can for their grandchildren, especially when it means bettering their lives. Therefore, it isn't uncommon for grandparents to contribute to college costs. With grandparents trying to head off into their golden years and retirement, it can be difficult to add college debt onto their already-existing debt. So, if this is something that you are considering doing for your grandchildren, there are a few ways to go about it. Here are three ideas, including their benefits and drawbacks:

Consider a 529 Savings Plan for College.

A 529 plan can be started in your own name or your grandchild's name. It is a plan that allows you to add money and avoid taxes on it (in most cases). Keep in mind that if you put the plan in your grandchild's name, then they'll need to disclose it on their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application as an asset. However, you can lower the weight of such an asset by giving the money to your child instead of your grandchild. At the same time, keep in mind that you will have to pay taxes on the contribution if it is over $14,000. Each state is different in what and how they offer these 529 plans, so you may want to speak to a financial expert about which is best for your situation.

Help Your Grandchild Get a Scholarship.

Rather than shelling out money out of your own pocket or retirement fund, why not consider helping your grandchild get a scholarship. At some schools, there are monetary awards that may be given to student based on their grandparent's affiliations, ancestry and even military service. This can ensure that you aren't adding to your current debt, yet you're also helping to ensure that your grandchild has the money needed to pursue their degree.

Take Out a Private Student Loan.

Although grandparents can't get a federal loan for their grandchild, they can co-sign a private student loan with him or her. However, this means that you and your grandchild are going to be equals when it comes to being responsible for the debt. If your grandchild does not make the payments as agreed, you will likely be on the hook for the debt. In other words, if they don't pay it, you'll have to or suffer the credit consequences. In some cases, your Social Security payment may be seized.

If you want to help your grandchild out, it is understandable. Your grandchild's education is important and it can be fulfilling to help them with their dreams, but it is also important that you understand what you're getting yourself into. This is particularly true if you're in the process of trying to pay down your own debt so that you can live well through your retirement. So, before jumping into anything, make sure to speak to a financial professional, such as,  who can sit down with you, evaluate all of your options and explain various loan programs to you so that you can end up choosing the option that works best for you.