Should You Tap Retirement Savings to Fund College? There are three things to consider before dipping into retirement savings to pay for college. Share | Related Content 18 Years Worth of Days The average retirement lasts for 18 years. Are you prepared to fill that many days? What Is a Stretch IRA? If you have a traditional IRA, you may have the opportunity to extend its tax-deferred status across multiple generations. Retirement Plan Distributions There are a number of ways to withdraw money from a qualified retirement plan.