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You may be better off keeping the money in your name, rather than the child's. Perhaps you can tell the family that you have earmarked so many dollars in a separate account that you will invest and use to pay for the girl's college education.

Several reasons:

1) If this girl's parents have no money then she should qualify for lots of financial aid. You can then cover whatever the financial aid doesn't. (If you give her the money now, it will be counted as her assets and she will get much less aid.) For instance, if she qualifies for a lot of loans, then you could give her money so she doesn't have to take them. By the way, money spent on college tuition isn't subject to the annual $10,000 gift tax limitation.

2) You will have complete control of the money.

It seems to be relatively hard to set up a trust where you control how the money is spent. One method is called a "Crummey trust", but it's fairly complicated. You will need to hire a lawyer to set it up; this can be expensive.
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