Monday, April 14, 2008

Planning for Your Child's College Education

Paying for Your Child's College EducationAnyone will tell you that having children is expensive. Food, clothing, housing, soccer lessons, it all adds up but the biggest financial worry is college; given today's prices, if my four children were to get four-year degrees at private universities it would cost approximately $380,000 and the price is only going up. By the time they actually get to college I expect it could be well on the way to half a million dollars.

Someone recently asked us how we are planning on paying for our children's educations and the answer might surprise you. We aren't. At least not in the way most parents are planning.

One of the biggest financial mistakes parents make, besides carrying enormous consumer debt, is paying for their children's university educations. If the numbers I've quoted above don't convince you then I'm not sure anything else I can say will do the trick but here's a few things to think about:

1. You can't afford it. Unless you're making an income greater than 99% of the rest of us you can't afford to pay for college. It will eat up your retirement savings, it will put you in debt, it will cripple you financially. And it's not just me saying this--even popular financial gurus like Suze Orman have been saying this for years. Anyone out there have half a million dollars just lying around? I thought not, neither do we.

2. It's not your job. Being a good parent doesn't mean paying for your child's education. Your job is to provide food, shelter, clothing, medical care and most of all lots of love and teaching--but not a B.A. My job is to teach and guide my children but it's not my job to follow behind them with a checkbook, paying their way through the halls of higher learning any more than it's my job to buy them their first home or pay for the births of their children. Is anyone expecting their children to pay for their retirement? No, we're planning for our own future because some things people have to do for themselves.

3. It can be done without your help. Despite what others might have you believe, government grants and programs, scholarships, plain old fashioned jobs, even military service make a degree quite accessible barring extraordinary circumstances. It can be done without mommy and daddy getting a second mortgage and footing the bill--it might mean your child has to get a second job, it might mean they don't get straight As, it might mean they scrimp and save and struggle but are you so sure that those are bad things?

4. It's better for them. Children are better served when their parents expect them to pay for their own education. This may go against conventional wisdom but if a child--actually I should say an adult, they're 18 years old, right?--is encouraged from a young age to learn skills and get employment that will provide them a way to get through college, whether it's delivering pizzas, answering phones or mowing lawns, then not only have they learned how to hold a job but it'll be easier for them to get a job in college and after college. It will also provide motivation for them to get through as fast as they can when every semester they're having to pay that tuition fee.

So what do you do? If you decide that you want your children to pay for their own education what can you do to help them? Because though the way may be cheaper it certainly won't be easier--they're still going to need help which means lots of work to teach them a few things.

Teach Them to Think Cheap
The first mistake people make when thinking about college is to consider private universities for undergraduate degrees. The average price of a private university for 2007-2008 is $23,712 which is completely outrageous.

However, 56% of students last year chose to attend colleges costing $9000 or less in tuition. If you're shopping for a car you look for a good deal, if you're shopping for a home, a shirt, a loaf of bread you always look for a good deal but why is it when education is on the table that suddenly people are willing to plop down a tuition check nearly as much as an annual U.S. wage? And that doesn't count living expenses or books. Here in Anchorage UAA offered the top 10% of graduating seniors full scholarships when I was looking at colleges--you can't beat a deal like that. When Andrew and I were applying to law school our biggest criteria was cost. We were determined that we were going to do it as inexpensively as possible and every day since then we've been thanking our lucky stars. Besides, "inexpensive" doesn't necessarily mean "cheap" when it comes to education.

So teach your children to enjoy saving money and not to always need the most expensive brand which translates into going to a state-sponsored school for their undergraduate. Go cheap for undergrad, do well and prove it with good grades then save your money for graduate work if you've got to have that ivy league stamp on their transcript. The hard truth is that very few employers care where you went to school anyway, they care about your grades and work experience but not whether you went to a private school. If you want to be a celebrity in your field then by all means buy the fancy brand name school but most of us don't require that to be successful.

Teach Them How to Get Help
As I said before, education really isn't beyond the grasp of most people--my husband put himself through school with the help of Pell grants, scholarships and manageable student loans (not counting the costs of having a wife and two children at home) and for most people this is a realistic plan. There are lots of services to help students apply for financial aid--it may take them distancing themselves from their parents as dependents so as not to be jeopardized by their parents' income for qualifying assistance but it can be done. Learning to navigate the system and understand financial services and interest can be as important a life lesson as the things they'll learn in the classroom.

Teach Them To Work
The best I saved for last because teaching your children to work for something they need and want is one of the greatest gifts you could give, it's much more valuable than a tuition check. Paying for college certainly isn't easy but difficult things are usually worth the price of accomplishment and the work will make them appreciate their education all the more. It will also make them take their studies more seriously--languishing through six years of school (that's the average time it takes for a four-year degree nowadays) with no idea of what to do in life is a lot harder to do when you're paying for it.

Tell them your expectations when they're young then teach them how to make a resume, how to go through a job interview and how to hold a job. Teach them not to turn their noses up at honest work or to think a job is beneath them and teach them to learn how to face multiple pressures at once by expecting them to work while going to high school--studies show students who work part-time while attending school full time have better time-management skills and get better grades overall anyway. In short, a lot of work never hurt anyone and it'll get them through school.

The whole point of parenthood is to raise another human being to be good, caring, productive and independent and children will never learn to be independent so long as they're still counting on Mom and Dad to foot the bill. You don't have to cut them off completely--be that safety net should the unexpected traumas of life rear their ugly head (that's part of what family is for--and we do have a small emergency savings for that kind of thing) but first give them the chance to act and grow for themselves by teaching them to work toward their own financial and educational goals.

They'll get a far higher rate of return on their educational investment with their own money than they ever could with yours.


Congratulations to Paula who won the Seattle TourSaver giveaway--tomorrow I'll announce the winner of the DK and Barefoot Books package. I'll have more books to give away tomorrow . . .

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Mrs. F said...

This is the best post I have read in a long time. I have no idea why I thought I had to pay for my kids college tuition. I screwed around when my Mom was paying for mine.

Great, great, great post!!!!

Michemily said...

I am soooo glad you think like this. I always find my efforts insulted when people say that their parents are funding everything. How are they supposed to learn anything?

chelle said...

Being that my husband recently started his career I could not disagree with you more (I think this may be a first! hehe).

My Dad "helped" me through my education and therefore I did not have a student loan to carry at the end. I worked and payed for my living expenses and in turn also enjoyed other aspects of university I would not of been able to if I had to work full time.

My husband was in studies that meant he could not work outside of school, he worked in labs (and made $$ but not enough to pay for everything at first), so he had to get student loans. His parents could have assisted a little but chose not to.

Now we are just starting out as a small family and it is hard because we had a modest student loan to pay off now. Both our families have and probably will continue to help us out, but that debt is really a burden and we are stuck in a balancing act.

I will not pay for the entirety of my children's education and expect them to save and work, however I hope not to leave them feeling overwhelmed at the beginning of their adult lives.

Cool post :D

Kristen M. said...

I agree with this post. Parents are not obligated to go into debt to pay for their children's educations. I think it is great if a family member can help with finances but I also believe the student will take more ownership if she has to work for her degree. I know too many students who take it for granted that mom & dad will pay. If a student insists on a more expensive university (for a particular field, etc) then a great way to go is community college for the first year or two to to get all the basics out of the way.

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

You forgot to mention community (or junior) colleges. They are way cheaper than spending freshman and sophomore years at even a public university - where I live, one year of community college costs about 3000 dollars. Plus, they are living at home, so they save on room and board for 2 years. And in our state, some of the state universities (good ones, too!) have an arrangement where the community-college student is automatically accepted as a junior-year transfer student if he has a certain GPA.

We discourage the loan route, however - we have seen way too many people whose life choices have been changed because they are burdened with student loans - they have delayed marriage, delayed having children (and in some cases not been able to have any because they started so late), and been forced to work (because of the debt) rather than being able to stay home with their young ones.

miriama said...

Thank GOD someone else is saying this. I have two children: 23 and 13. My oldest went to a jr. college: Green River CC. Then on to a college in Tacoma. All by herself with scholarships and a teeny bit of help from us. And so will her sister. I get so tired of hearing people telling me how to fund my kids' college. They can do it themselves just like I did. GREAT post.

Stephanie said...

I'm with you Michelle, though I too know what it is like to be burden with the debt after school. We maxed out our student loans which is easy to do, but really not smart. Hopefully my kids will learn from our mistakes.

WV also has a program for top students to attend WV universities for free. Hope the kids take advantage of that!

WendyJanelle said...

I agree for the most part. We are not saving for our children's college either.

My parents taught us to work and study hard. I was awarded a large academic scholarship to a private university, based solely on SATs.

Still, though, I think that if parents have the ability and desire to aid their kids, then there is nothing wrong with that.

Btw, our local private college gave free courses to high school students who took advanced classes and maintained a high GPA. Check into those options!

poppy fields said...

I think local community colleges are a great solution for the first years out of high school.

Alice Wills Gold said...

My hubby just got done with his JDMBA. We started with three childrn.

We always joke that we may help pay for their college, but it will have to wait until we are done paying for their dad's. :)

I totally agree with the notion that the kids should work for it. It will make them aprreciate it so much more and prepare them better to get a job after graduation.

My hubby's worst grades of his whole college career were during his first year when his parents paid for everything.

And it's called growing up. My in-laws could have paid for my hubby's entire 10 years of college, but we are glad that they helped minimally. We wouldn't want the burden of knowing that we ate up a huge chunk of their retirement.

And, my husband is a much better man because of the responsibility that he has taken for his own education.

And, yes, starting out a legal career with three kids in tow and a huge $100,000 of loans is overwhelming at times, but we have been told and know that it will get easier as his income increases.

Mama Zen said...

Awesome post! I think kids will take college a lot more seriously if they are footing the bill!

Anonymous said...

This is a FANTASTIC post! I saw a very clear line in college between the students for whom Daddy was footing the bill and the students (like my husband and I) who needed summer jobs and part time school jobs to pay the tuition. With very little exception the harder the student had to work to pay for his/her own education the harder he/she worked at getting that education.

Mirien said...

It is so nice to have my own opinions on this subject validated by someone else! We're not saving for our 6 kids' educations. Instead, we're devoting our time now to helping them be good students and teaching them to work and save money. It worked for me. I knew that the only way I could attend college was if I paid my own way, and I am grateful for the independence and financial responsibility I learned in the process.

Sarah said...

Great, great post. I definitely need to be thinking about some of these things now even though my first child has about about 6 years until college. The time is going to fly and teaching her now both a good work ethic and that she can be starting what it will take to earn the scholarships on her own (i.e. music, grades, etc.) is great.

Thanks and have a great week!

MommyTime said...

As a college professor, I agree with so much of what you are saying -- particularly the parts about teaching kids the value of work, and the incredible value that is good state schools.

However, as someone who had to work 40 hours per week during my senior year in order to afford to finish my degree (and that includes having loans, grants, work study, a good grades scholarship, $3500 saved up from summer job, AND a few thousand dollars annually from my parents), I can say that it is not only not easy to work one's way through can be nearly impossible. I was an overachiever, and did get into grad school, but I had no social life at all throughout that year, and I was tired a lot. You may argue that these are small prices to pay, and I certainly know that I learned a lot more than just things out of books from this process, but I think it is a little dangerous to assume this will be possible for future generations.

Fast forward to now (I graduated college in 1991). I am a professor at a university that contains a lot of first-generation to go to college students, many of whom work full-time. I have students who routinely fall asleep in class because they work the night shift at a Ford plant and then try to go to school during the day while balancing responsibilities to family. No one can help them out with money; they have loans and grants; they tell me sometimes that they cannot afford to buy books for my class. And I teach at a good but not top tier PUBLIC school.

At a time when college tuitions are rising faster than inflation, and far faster than the minimum wage, I think the only way my kids will be able to afford to pay for college on their own 15 years from now is to take on tremendous debt--the kind of debt that is nearly irresponsible unless one is going to become a brain surgeon. But you can't be a brain surgeon with only a B.A.

While I COMPLETELY agree that parents should not go into debt, mortgage their homes, or forsake retirement savings for their kids' college educations (especially when community colleges are such a great option for the first two years), the miracle of compound interest means that if you can afford to put away even $100 per month for kids into a college fund when they are small, that money will be a tidy sum by the time they are old enough to go to college. We have no illusions that the amount we are able to save for our kids will be enough to pay for everything for them -- and we would never want to. But we put in what we can AFTER we put the maximums into our retirement accounts and we fund our other investments because I don't want them to be completely priced out of the market so that they can't afford an education. And, frankly, while they will be expected to work summers and even part-time during school, I don't want them working 40 hours a week and trying to go to college. Because what suffers then, as I've seen all too often, is the grades -- and if you don't have time to do the school work, why bother to pay for the education you aren't getting?

I am so glad you raised this really complex topic, and I hope you don't mind that I disagree with you on some things. It's so hard to know what the world will look like by the time our kids are in college, but I feel better if I feel that I'm helping them prepare a bit financially.

G's Cottage said...

All four paid their own way. And all four are successful adults when it comes to money management.

Anonymous said...

When my parents were paying for my education, my report card looked like I was trying to become a wrestler... that is, full of wwf, wwf... needless to say the school declined to support my "I'm a student" lifestyle with that kind of track record, and my parents weren't impressed either.

Ten years later I decided to go back to school. Night school, while working full time. It took me four years to complete my degree, I graduated with a 4.0 and was at the top of my class. I don't know whether it was paying for it myself or the greater maturity that ten years in the work force had given me, but school was much easier to focus on even when I had to juggle a job with studying.

I would add that I don't think it's necessary to jump into higher education the second you graduate from high school. Sometimes working for minimum wage can bring into better focus the value of having a degree on your resume.

Annie said...

I totally agree with you! I have a one year old right now and sometimes people ask me if we are saving for his college. I always reply that we probably won't even be done paying for OUR own educations by the time he is ready for college. I wonder if people expect me to be saving for his education while still being in debt for my own. Now that would be a bad mistake. Still - people have given me checks to deposit into his savings account and I hope to invest that wisely for him.

luke said...

I remember Mom and Dad putting a tin can in my room with the words "College Fund" written on it. And then them making me get a paper route at 12 a job at 14 and mom confiscating my paycheck to put it in a Mutual fund for my college. Because of them I worked my way through 7 years of undergraduate and now three years of law school and my wife and I will only have $40K in debt when I graduate next year.

Megan said...

I don't entirely agree with your post, although you list great suggestions on ways to save money. My parents paid for my entire college education and would not allow me to get a job. "School is your job," my father would tell me. Because I was not distracted with working a part time job to pay for college, I could excel in my classes. I am graduating a semester early with a job offer for after I graduate. I have had many friends who have dropped out of college because they were paying for it themselves. Even in community college, they went out to get jobs as waitresses or started working retail to help with the tuition bill. However $350 a week is a lot of money for an 18 year old. They don't realize that once they have to pay for housing, food, etc. that $350 isn't going to cover their current lifestyle. You said that 18 year olds are "adults," yet they don't know the first thing about standing on their own two feet. If parents can help out their children (any way they can), then I highly advise it.

Coach J said...

Amen, and amen on not paying for your children's college education. My parents did not pay for mine. I got married, had a baby, and STILL graduated Cum Laude in four years because the amount of money I was putting out was a HUGE factor toward getting that piece of paper hanging in my office.

Kelly @ Love Well said...

Amen, Michelle.

It doesn't appear to be endemic among your intelligent and thoughtful readers, but it seems so many parents today are mindlessly determined to pay their child's way through college. I don't understand the mindset, frankly. Yet in magazines and newspapers, it's an assumed thing.

Thanks for being a voice of common sense.

Lis Garrett said...

FANTASTIC post! Even though I don't have a degree, I've got about 60 hours of college credit to my name - NONE of it paid for by my parents. When I first started college, I lived in Georgia. There, any student with a C grade average or better can attend school for free at a state college. When I moved to Kansas and attended a private univeristy, I was lucky that I could take advantage of FREE tuition, thanks to my step-mother being a longtime employee and instructor (although I did pay for my dorm and books, which I worked fulltime for at a bank while attending class at night and on the weekends). When I moved to NY, I attended classes at a community college paid for by financial aid and a grant from the hospital (which is just about paid off). I never expected my parents to pay for my education. We were poor, so I just KNEW they wouldn't be able to.

GREAT post!!

Cocoa said...

My kids know we aren't going to pay for their college education. They have already started their own savings accounts. Great post!

MommyK said...

My inlaws paid for my husband's college tuition and for that of his two brothers. They could afford it. All three graduated with excellent GPA's, got good jobs and are financially smart. My H and I will have finished paying for our house in just a couple of years. I am not even 30 yet.

On the other hand, my parents could not afford to help me with my education. I worked full time and attended school full time and it was hard. My health and my grades suffered because of it. And I graduated with a 14,000 dollars of debt that took years to pay off. And I graduated from a state school in 4 years. Friends who attended private colleges and took longer to graduate had more debt.

We save for both our retirement and for our kids education. We probably won't be able to fully finance college for 2 kids, but with the way tuition costs are, I can't allow my kids to start their adult lives with that kind of debt behind them.

The difference is what attitude you teach your kids about money. It's not smart to divert retirement funds to help pay for college, but I see nothing wrong with helping with tuition costs if you can afford it.

Mrs. Organic said...

We've come to the conclusion that we are willing to match our children's savings efforts. They each have an account for college and every deposit they make is matched by us (we do require them to deposit 40% of what they earn.

The thing we can't decide is if it's worth it to 'help' them with a car purchase - one that's reliable and will last them through college - or to just let them suffer with a beater car.

Erin said...

I do want to say that just because on the page a private college looks more expensive doesn't necessarily mean it has to be that way in reality. Most private colleges offer a great deal more in scholarship money in an attempt to level the playing field.

I went to a private school and my sister went to an out-of-state public school and the cost was nearly identical.

Moreover, some students (myself included) simply thrive in the kind of education experience you can get at a private university. I went from my private college to a Big 10 public university for grad school, and I can see clear differences in the classroom experiences I had and the ones my students have (much as I try to mimic a private college classroom).

So--I agree students shouldn't go private because it's trendy, but neither should they rule it out based on advertised price alone.

Richelle said...

We are saving a little for our children's college, but trying to put more in to our retirement funds. I like how my husband put it-your kids can get a loan to go to college, but you can't get a loan to retire.
At the same time though, it costs a whole lot more to pay off a loan than to have it saved up before. I think kids should work through high school to save up some of their own money.

My Ice Cream Diary said...

Thank you for saying this. Now when I say it to other mothers and they give me that "I can't believe you were allowed to become a mother" look I can tell them that I read it on Scribbit and then they will think I'm brilliant. =)

I especially agree with saving the ivy league or big name colleges for the graduate degree.

My Ice Cream Diary said...

P.S. We are saving for our children's futures but they don't know about it. There is no way we will be able to afford everything for them, but I know there will be times when a little help can make a big difference and I want to be able to do so if absolutely needed. And if we never need it I can add it to my retirement fun money.

Yes, my name is Arizona said...

It doesn't always work out so well, though. I went to college at 22 because I couldn't afford to pay for college myself. After attending a community college for a year, I got a scholarship to a private university to study marine biology and although my tuition was paid for with the scholarship and a loan I could not afford living expenses and had to drop out, change universities and my major since marine biology isn't offered at many colleges in Illinois. I never got my marine biology degree. I settled for a BA and got a job doing something I enjoyed, but didn't love. I did not screw around in college. I studied hard and was an honor student. A little financial help from my parents (one who is very well-off) would have been really nice, especially since I got A's and was very responsible. I tried to find a decent job when I was at the private university, but they were scarce and I was taking cell biology, calculus II, and organic chemistry. I needed time to study, not make minimum wage. When it comes to my kids, so long as they are good students and not screwing around in college I will help them as much as possible because I don't want to see them lose a dream simply because of a lack of money. Everyone says "where there's a will, there's a way", but that's not always true.

Anonymous said...

So many thoughts are expressed here by your thoughtful readers....

I had most of my college paid for by my grandfather. I always worked at least part-time in college. I always considered my college education a gift that he gave to me that I truly valued-every day. I NEVER took it for granted.

That said, my husband and I (high shool teacher and a writer/SAHM living in the $$$ SF Bay Area) have not been able to put away much for my children's educations (ages 14 and 10).

I so appreciate this post. We will help our children if we can with some college expenses, but both my kids have part-time jobs, and we are teaching them the value of hard work and saving--NOW.

Much food for thought.


Scribbit said...

A couple great points brought up--first, community colleges ARE a great option, thanks for pointing that out, I sure missed the boat by not pointing that out didn't I?

Second, that heavy debt for school isn't a good thing. There's the temptation for students to stack up the debt and that can be just as bad as being handed a tuition check each semester. Most of the students don't realize that student loans are non-dischargeable which means that should they declare bankruptcy down the road the debt aren't erased but continue to follow them. Debt should always be taken very seriously--however I don't agree that debt is always a bad thing. Small, responsible loans can be effective and our society couldn't operate without the ability for people to borrow money for homes, small businesses and education. It just must be done with care and planning.

I'm glad that people feel comfortable disagreeing with me and I appreciate other viewpoints on the subject. I'm writing this based on our own observations and I'm in no way qualified to offer an opinion other than from those observations.

My main objective was to offer an opinion that differs from what seems to be an assumption that parents will and should and must pay for their children's education. That assumption disturbs me and does so many people a disservice.

Your own circumstances may not hold up to my way of doing things, I just wanted to bring up another viewpoint on the subject.

Thanks for all the comments!

Erin G said...

I agree with your focus on public universities - if my kids want to go private, they might have to do it themselves... I certainly don't want to sacrifice any of my own retirement for the difference in public vs private, unless I just have the cash sitting around and nothing better to spend it on (I won't).


My parents paid for my college, and it meant that when I graduated I was debt-free, and I could buy a house and start earning equity in that investment. Which means I can save now for retirement AND college - and an extra $250 a month into an investment account is easy to set aside for my son, instead of extra dinners out, fancy cars, more expensive houses, etc. So I think I was VERY well-served in the fact that my parents funded my education - my friends who weren't so fortunate are in very different finanacial situations now. the best way to aquire long-term wealth, most experts agree, is in owning a home - and I am in a very fortunate situation that I could buy at a (relatively) young age.

that being said, we definitely prioritize retirement over college (since the latter is definitely on the "optional" end of the spectrum). But college savings IS possible and you don't have to sacrifice your whole retirement to do it, if that's what you choose. and you're not hurting your kid by helping them out (not necessarily paying for everything), especially if it keeps them debt-free later.

I think you did an excellent job of presenting the "other" side of an argument, and I think it's important dialogue to have! :) we all have to do what's right for our families, and the more information/viewpoints we have, the better educated we can be when we make those decisions, right? even if I disagree with some of the finer points (ok, the main themse) of what you're saying, I think it's great to at least have the conversation - and LEARN something. :)

Nicole said...

I almost skipped right past this when I saw the topic. I am so used to the elaborate saving plans and such to pay for your kids college education. Thank you for the breath of fresh air! I paid for the college I attended (still working on it) and my husband took advantage of the GI bill. We came through this as better people and while we hope to contribute a bit for maybe housing or books, we really want to encourage our kids to think outside the box and see what they can do for themselves. People get so caught up in enabling their children often the completely forget that the nest thing you can do is teach your kids how, then let them try!

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with you! DH and I are still paying on our student loans, and will for a while. However, DH is military so that helped. I have my B.S., and DH has his masters. His education is allowing him to start a new job next month in a field he loves and will be making enough that will easily be able to afford for me to continue to stay at home, pay our large but great interest rate student loans, and live comfortably. He went to school years ago with mommy and daddy paying, didn't know what he wanted to do, and didn't care, flunking out because he didn't even attend class. It wasn't until he joined the military, grew up a lot, that he knew what he wanted to do and truly wanted to learn. Had he listened to his mother, he would have stayed in school t o get a degree, any degree- as she put it, then would have ended up living in their basement being a perpetual teenager like his brother (and like his mother would love, but that's another story).

Mrs Nespy said...

I'm right there with you. I blogged about it just over a month ago and got a lot of positive feedback. Great post.

Don Mills Diva said...

Wow - a really thought-provoking post and lots of great comments. Education is much cheaper in Canada and hubby and I will endeavor to pay for our son's education because we can. We put $100 a month away, the gov. adds 20% to that and he's only 2. I do expect him to contribute any money he earns as a teenager and if there is a shortfall and we are strapped at the time he might have a loan - hard to say...

Yes, my name is Arizona said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog! This topic has been on my mind all morning and I just wanted to add a bit more. I agree that kids should work and play a VERY large role in planning their educations. But I don't feel that role should always include 100% of the financing. There's a big difference between an english degree and the sciences, for instance. A science degree, for the majority of people, requires a ton of study time. For me it did. There was one guy in my biochem class who just seemed to "get" it. I didn't. I had to study like crazy for the A I got. It was after that semester I decided I couldn't keep up the pace I was trying to keep up. I was working as a classroom assistant at my college and taking 4 and 5 classes each semester. More than a few times a week I was staying up until 3 am to study. It was excruciating. I would have loved to have cut back on my classes so I could still work and have a lighter course load, but I had to be a full-time student with a 3.8/4.0 GPA in order to keep my scholarship. So, it was really tough. There's always a catch, it seems. I think its easy to say at this point what we'll do when our kids go to college, but I think when it comes to our kids' futures we can't use a cookie cutter method. If one of my kids dreams of being a doctor or physicist or something crazy, and is a successful student, I'm certainly not going to ask him/her to go get a job if it proves to be detrimental to his/her goal. On the other hand, if my kid is goofing off in college and has no idea what he/she wants to do in life, I'm not going to finance that. What I will do is get very involved in helping my kid find what it is s/he wants to do.

Thanks for this post. It gave me something important to think about today. Its a controversial topic and brings up all kinds of emotions, but its so important to think about and plan for a kids education now, rather than later, whether that planning means financial planning or simply helping your kids find a way to get themselves through college.

Thanks again!

azlag AT comcast DOT net

DementedM said...

Great post. First time visitor/commenter.

My only beef with the whole college thing is that the parent's income is counted against the poor kid. So the parents influence how much aid the child gets.

As a student I hated that system because I didn't get any help from my parents, but yet they were costing me financial aid with their income.

So yeah, 18 is an adult, but not when it comes to college financial aid. And that blows.

My daughter will be encouraged to start at a community college. We will help her as much as we can, but there won't be a free ride. We don't have the money.


Shelli said...

My husband is a history professor and of Polish heritage, so he believes very much in helping his children with their education and financially in life just like his parents have done for him, IF they are using their time and talent in their best interests and not taking the help for granted. In our experience (the academic world), we have learned that the school you attend is very important as well as the grades. Community college won't cut it. I'm not sure this is true in the corporate world. It depends on what you want to pursue, and kids should find out how others made it in their chosen field before they attend college. We want to encourage our children to study hard and perhaps get some internships. Jobs that will look good on their resumes, although, I have nothing against them working at a grocery store or wherever, if they can't find something else. I just know from my own experience that if I had tried to take advantage of some internships, I might have gotten the jobs I really wanted later on.

If we stay in Georgia, we can (hopefully) take advantage of the HOPE scholarship, which will pay their tuition, if they keep a B average in high school. But if they want to go to a better school, then we'll just see. We won't guarantee it because as you said, we just can't afford it right now, but we'll do everything we can to help. (But not take out an extra mortgage or anything.)

I think you write a very good post, but I do feel that if our parents had not paid for our college educations, we would be up a creek right now. We know of people spending a great deal of their lives paying off their student loans. Both my husband and I lived at home while we were in school (he until he was 31 getting his PhD). I am sure for some kids, that would not be a cool thing to do, but I hope for our children, we can show them the advantages of doing this, if they want to pursue higher education. Of course, that might be easier said than done.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you. I think kids should be responsible to pay their own way--that way they have ownership of it, and it becomes an achievement for them to be proud of. I paid my own way through school w/o loans, by working my butt off and taking an occasional term off and getting plenty of grants, and it didn't hurt me one bit.
I tell my kids, though, that I am paying for their college--by putting them through a French school, I'm making it even more possible for them to get scholarships, etc. ;)

Beth said...

This is exactly what DH and myself are doing, at least hope to when the time comes. I'm pretty sure they would want us taken care of in our old age, then they have to do it with their own financial burdens. Good post, you will make many people think!

Scribbit said...

Again, thanks for all the comments, I think I'm hearing two side to this:

1. Those who are worried about the debt that is associated with paying for school without parental support


2. Those who say that the system I've described worked for them.

While I agree completely that enormous debt for school is a bad, bad thing I just don't think that this is a zero-sum game. That you're faced with either assuming huge debts to pay for school or getting help from parents. I've known a lot of people (including my husband) who were able to make it through without their parents that I'm quite sure it can be done.

Anyone out there care to share secrets of how they made it through without big debts or help from parents?

Did working in college damage your grade (or even your health as some commentators have said) or did it help you manage your time better (as some studies suggest).

I'd love to hear your experiences.

Anonymous said...

I definitely agree! I am currently in university and paying for it myself. Working a full time job and studying is hard, but anything worth doing will be hard. I also like the thought that even if it may take an extra year or two to finish my degree, at least I won't have a huge loan to repay at the end :)

Also, with 8 kids there's no way my parents could fork out all our tuition, and that shouldn't be something they need to feel pressured to do.

cndymkr / jean said...

I am so glad you said this.

I have no intention of paying for my son to go to college. He knows that he is expected to go and to pay for it. I'll help him get loans, apply for scholarships - whatever it takes. But around here this notion is seen as outrageous. People want to be seen as martyrs and are willing to go into debt. I don't get it. Thanks for putting this out there.

Heffalump said...

I had a teacher in high school that only had two children because that was all they would be able to afford to pay for college for. I think she missed out on having a bigger family. Of course since I am having my sixth she would probably think I am insane. Its missions we are worried about paying for, not college. We have five boys...

gretchen from lifenut said...

My husband and I have student loans and worked our way through college. Our parents helped with things like textbooks.

Freshman year, I worked in my dorm's cafeteria in exchange for food and board. I was a tutor through the college's tutoring office as well. My husband worked in the library.

I also waited tables, was a DJ, and worked at an airport during my college years. My husband worked for a catering company and at a jewelry store. I love that we have a wide range of experiences in our past, and we share our histories with the kiddos.

Unless you borrow hundreds of thousands of dollars, the student loan monthly payment isn't bad at all. We consolidated our loans and pay about $125 a month, total. It won't be paid off for awhile, but it's do-able and we haven't had to put our lives on hold because of our loans.

With six kids, we are already prepping them for a world of work and study. It's worth it. Despite the work, I had a wonderful time in college. When you are 19 years old, you can have fun doing just about anything.

Anonymous said...

My mom-in-law objected to us having so many kids because we can't pay for their college. She actually thought if we can't give them a free degree, we mustn't give them life.

Damselfly said...

We are doing a prepaid college plan for Fly. We make a payment every month for five years, and it's going to be a small percentage of what college is going to cost when he gets to be that age! He can choose any state college or other state colleges in the network, out of state. Or, we can get our money back.

My parents did zilch for me for college. They didn't even write away for an application -- I literally did everything. So it kills me when I hear some people fill out their kids' college applications for them! It took me six years to put myself through school, and it was very hard.

Mrs. Annie said...

Glad to see you put this in print. People still look at us like we are nuts when we say we have no intention of paying for our children's college education.

And just to add to your list of cheap education:

CLEP - The College Level Exams cost about $85 to take and if you pass you get college credit (check with the college you are thinking of attending to see which ones they accept).

Internships - Gain experience through interning. Some college will give college credit for internships. Our son is currently interning and will be able to turn his two years of work into college credit - nice!

Inkling said...

This is an awesome post. My husband paid his own way, and doesn't plan on paying for our future children's university education. That bothered me because my parents (and a scholarship) paid for mine, so I always thought it was the "children's right" to have mom and dad pay. But the way you laid it out in your post makes sense, and shows me how much wiser it is to teach children well during their early years, enabling them to help themselves when it comes to getting a university education. Besides, that means they will probably figure out that the library is for studying and not flirting lightyears before I did. =)

MamaKas said...

I'm only 24 and I get agree with this post 100%. In Alaska it's mostly trade, my husband is a cabinetry guy. No degree needed. Fishing, carpentry, auto shop, pilots, there's a plethora of good paying jobs that don't include going to school (for long anyways). The community college idea posted below is fantastic, it's great b/c here in Ak, juniors and seniors in high school can do some college classes so when they do graduate they can get to the beef of what they want to do!

And personally when parents or society pushes the idea of COLLEGE in peoples brains they're just setting them up to feel like a failure when say...they DON'T have a half a million dollars. I'm paying off student loans now but am happy about it. It made me get my stuff together and take bills seriously when I was 18 and now I have great credit. People do what they can...I just wish college wasn't such a cliche "have-to" for society. (not saying college is a bad thing, of course)

Mary@notbefore7 said...

This was a WONDERFUL post and I loved your thoughts about shopping the price, etc.

We do hope to contribute to our children's education, but there is a balance in there for sure.

Holly said...

I agree completley! Our kids are still little and haven't even begun school yet, but still that cost of college weighs on my mind. Thanks for putting it all into perspective in such a great way!

Anonymous said...

While I agree with many of your points, I think you make your argument far too black and white. I went to an excellent private university and was funded by my parents. That being said I had worked very hard in HS to get a lot of scholarships to bring the tuition down to that of a state school.

My grades in college were excellent. I graduated with honors. I held down a job throughout school to help pay for my life outside of school. Because I went to a small private school, I was able to finish in 4 years easily while all my friends at state schools finished in 5 or 6.

I also was always in a class under 30 and always taught by a professor, not a TA. I got an amazing education. Many of my friends at state university never even bothered going to class because the TA didn't even speak English.

Because of this I got into an excellent grad school program. The first semester for me (a weed out time) was mostly review while most students have never even heard the material before. I paid for my graduate school entirely through loans. It would have been nearly impossible to work during graduate school as I was in class from 8am-8pm and had hours of homework every night.

I am still paying off those massive loans which is made even more difficult by the fact that we are a single income family. While I COMPLETELY agree that children should hold some responsibility for their education, I do believe that if we can help them, we should and try everything possible to not saddle them with debt. That being said, I would never so at the expense of my retirement or go into debt to do so. I would also expect certain grades to be maintained and some sort of job to be held to pay for part of education.

I am sorry this is so long, I just had an amazing experience at my private university that I know could not have been replicated at a big school. I also know I would not have been able to even go to grad school if I had already had 4 years of debt on my shoulders. Please consider that this issue isn't quite as black and white as you make it seem.

Pencil Writer said...

Amen. And again, Amen. Our three girls have had to work their way through college! What a blessing to them! Sage advice. (Like you needed my confirmation!)

I hope more parents take heed and find the greatness of the wisdom to require work and responsibility to be priorities in theirs and their children's lives.

Thanks. Amen.

Jerri Dalrymple said...

Wow! I COMPLETELY agree! It is so wonderful to find out that there are other parents out there who think the same. It's certainly not the main stream opinion. As WendyJanelle (another commenter) stated, there are private colleges who will allow high school students who maintain a high gpa to take classes at the college for free while still in high school. I was one of those lucky students! It really helps to get some of those prereq's out of the way...FREE! :0)

Scribbit said...

While I can appreciate those of you that had wonderful experiences at private universities (I have no doubt in the quality of education you received) that isn't really the point I'm afraid.

The point is that students need to be more bargain-minded. Yes, a wonderful private top-notch education would be wonderful, but it would also be wonderful to have your limo driver pick you up to and from classes.

Just because something is top quality doesn't mean that it's a necessity. A student can still obtain an adequate--and the word here is adequate, as in good enough for getting them a job and becoming educated--education without paying huge prices.

And what's more I strongly believe children should be taught that they don't have to have the best of everything--learning to compromise and take what you can get or what you can afford is important in life.

It doesn't just apply to education but to all purchases and investments--what's the best bang for your buck?

april said...

I will be doing everything possible to get the best education at the best school for my children's profession. In this world we live in who you know as well as what you know counts. College is about making good connections as well as a good education. I am preparing my children to work hard and work smart so that they will be paid (scholarships) to go to college but I will also help them. This is their future. It IS important to me. Being a mother doesn't stop at age 18. In fact some of your most important mothering is after they are 18. Why would I choose to not help my children pay for their education if it is at all possible.(Iam hoping by the time they are 18 I will be able to pay for most) I would rather have them spend 40 hours a week in their studies rather than 40 hours slaving at a low paying job to barely make their tuition and barely learn their trade to barley get by in life. I know because I have been doing this as a single mother. I hope the greatest life for my children as I do for myself. Don't mistake teaching them the lesson of hard work and scarifice for settling for less than they should. BTW the government does expect you to help pay for their education that is why they concider your income when approving your children for finacial aid. This is also why I wasn't able to start college 'til I was 24. The law has changed a bit in that area now but it is still very hard.

jubilee said...

One of the best things my parents did for me was teach me not to worry about labels. As in designer labels for clothing, etc. When it came time for college, I knew I'd be footing the bill for the most part, so inexpensive education was a major factor, not prestige. I graduated with $14K debt and while I'd never tell anyone to go that route, it did help me to get my priorities straight.
When I was in high school college recruiters always said that if a school is more expensive, then you'll get more financial aid. Unfortunately, in my case it was in the form of more loans, not scholarships and grants. Don't buy into the idea that it'll cost you the same amount of money no matter what school you go to. I cannot tell you how many times college recruiters said that to me.
I always felt terrible when I thought about my parents using part of their retirement money to help put me through college.
When my husband and I were talking to financial planning reps, one guy's mouth literally dropped open when I told him that we weren't planning on paying for our kids' college. His whole spiel was wrapped up in that very thing. After trying to make us feel inadequate as parents (didn't work) he ended up leaving without our names on his new clients list. He left with his name on our list though!

MommyK said...

I'm disturbed to read that many commenters seem to think that if a parent does help their child pay for college, that they are automatically setting their kids up to be spoiled brats with no respect for money and no work ethic. Because while that may be the case for some people, it's certainly not the rule.

My H had a PT job on campus during his college years, even though his parents paid his tuition. And their help with that has enabled us to be almost debt free and able to provide our children with things that we otherwise wouldn't be able to afford.

My parents intended to help with my education, but after my dad was out of work for a year and a half when my brother and I were in high school, they burned through their entire savings, the money that had been set aside for our education, and in the end, almost lost their house. They COULD NOT help me pay tuition, but the government still took their income into consideration when I applied for finanical aid. That stupid FAFSA form was the bane of my existence and the government couldn't see that my parents were living paycheck to paycheck, trying to pay down all the debt they accured during the layoff.

Instead, I got scholarships and I got loans and I worked 40 hours a week at one job and ran a small pet sitting business on the side and attended classes full time. I chose a course of study that was intense--molecular biology--and after years of not getting enough rest and constantly pushing myself, ended up very ill.

We would never mortgage our house or dip into our retirement to help our kids pay for college. But I would never intentionally put them through what I went through for my education to "teach them to be responsible."

Donna said...

Amen to everything you said. I get so disgusted when I read articles in magazines about how to fund your child's education. What? I paid for mine and that was just a given.
We are saving a tiny bit for their college, but in order to get it, they will have to match it.

Good & Crazy said...

No one paid a cent for my schooling, and my husband got himself a full ride to undergrad. We've always felt like you are are better off if left to fend for themselves when it comes to college. In law school, the kids (most of them) whose daddy was paying the tuition were sure to be drunk by's that for getting the most for his(the parent's) money?

Also a tip I recently read said, encourage your kids to spend one or two years at a Jr. college and then transfer to a 4 year. There are scholarships saved for transfer students and the degree in the end is totally from the 4 year. You save massively during those first 2 years and still get the same degree.

I have a friend back East, and his parents MORTGAGED their house so he could attend college debt free! I nearly died. He assured me he would do the same for his kid (note the singular kid). I've got three...only so many times can you mortgage your home?

(sorry so long--you really got me going here)

dieMutti said...

I loved this post - totally our philosophy as well. We are planning to have a little bit (and I emphasize LITTLE) bit available to each child in case of DIRE emergency, but I learned a ton by supporting myself through school - and didn't even end up with any student loans. :)

Lori - Queen of Dirty Laundry said...

Preach on, sister! I've known people who NEVER had a job until after they graduated from College, and I think their work ethic has suffered for it.

Our girls will be eligible for scholarships to a state university because they were adopted through the state foster care system, IF the funds are still available 10 years from now. Most other expenses, though, will be their responsibility.

I began working at 15, bought my own cars (with guidance from Dad), paid for my own gas and insurance, etc. Our expectation right now is that our girls will work at least in the summer-time as soon as they're old enough. I think it prepares one to be a responsible adult.

Great post!

BlapherMJ said...

What a great post! I agree completely and truly don't understand why more parents don't think along these lines!

whiletheynap said...

Student loans can be a burden that dictates what jobs and careers a person can take. I'd like to keep my daughters options open for her. With 17 years left to save I am putting the money she received as gifts into a 529 plan. I will continue to contribute as I can. When she's ready for college I want to have at least prepared us financially for the option of our paying her way, at least part way. Not investing early, is giving free money away. I can't afford to save $350k, but even $10k in the bank is something. Instilling kids with a respect for education and a good work ethic doesn't have to be linked to whose paying for college. I hope to have accomplished that before the issue of whose paying even comes up.

Stephanie said...

Bravo! This is an excellent post! Well-written and insightful!

My parents took a very similar position on this topic. I was basically "on my own" at 18.

I applied for over 50 scholarships, worked part time on-campus, and ended up debt-free with my bachelors degree two years later (yes, two! That's another way to save money in college! In our state, you can take 14 or 25 credits per semester for the SAME price! When you're paying for your own education, you get *very* creative).

I am grateful that I was "forced" to work hard, to budget, and to eat a lot of pasta in the early years. I hope to pass on that same character-building and enriching experience to my own children.

Anna said...

This post sure made me think. While I do have 529 accounts set up for my children, I don't expect it to fully pay for their college expenses. Hopefully it'll help them w/the extra things that come along w/being away from home. Whether that be food, books, room and board, etc.

My parents helped pay for part of my undergrad degree, the rest I had to either get grants or loans for, plus I worked throughout HS and college to have spending money and cover costs that my parents money did not.

I did pay for my own graduate degree, at a private school nonetheless, and it sure cost me a bundle!

Definitely a lot to think about.

Thanks for writing this.

Chief Family Officer said...

I really like the point about teaching them to "think cheap." Emphasizing value, of course, needs to start at a young age!

Leigh Anne said...

Thanks for your great post. I will have three, yes, THREE children in college next fall!! My high school senior daughter has spent a lot of time this year researching and applying for scholarships - there is a lot of money out there to be had and a lot of scholarship money that goes unclaimed every year. Our high school has a wonderful career center that helps the kids find and apply for scholarships.

page2 said...

You go girl! I completely agree. My husband and I paid for our undergrad and his medical school on our own. In undergrad he worked two part time jobs, and in med school we lived on loans and scholarships. But we did it. If there is a will there is a way. It was good for us to be independant.

Irene said...

I think this is a wonderful post! We are saving for our children's college education, but we are not necessarily planning on funding the entire thing. I want to give them a good start.

My parents paid for our education. It is really nice being able to start life without debt.

I also read that you need to remember that you can finance your child's education (or THEY can finance it), but you cannot finance your retirement.

It does bother me when people claim the reason they are not having more kids is due to the cost of college. That absolutely should not play a part. If a child is intelligent and hard working and RESPONSIBLE, they will be able to attend college. Period.

Great post!

Heather said...

I LOVE this and it's so wonderful to read. My parents sent all 4 of us kids to private school from K - Seniors in high school, but we knew we were expected to pay for college (I mean, for heaven's sake, that's a lot of money!). They helped out with room and board, but tuition was on us. We all agree that was totally fair and an even welcome nudge into adulthood.

Terry Rummelt Jr. said...

Did you know that 50% of students have to drop out their freshman year because they can't afford to go to college. Did you also know that it can actually be cheaper to go to a private university? If you believe me, and you should, then you need to read the book "Cash For College." It is the most useful tool you can have when preparing your child for college. The link to get this book is

Jamie said...

Excellent ideas. I really like your different angle on this. I don't think there is anything wrong with helping your kids partially with school costs if you are able, but there are many of us who won't be able to, so it's nice to have other options. :-) Thanks for sharing.

Barb said...

This is an important post, look at all those thoughtful comments. I paid for my own education, so did my husband, and we expect our children to do the same. Nice to get some back up here.

Melissa Markham said...

Fantastic post and oh so true! Another great option for college is checking out community colleges. You can spend two years there, way less expensive and get the basic courses out of the way before heading over to a four year college. Also, if the option is available in highschool, do dual enrollment courses (count for high school and college) at the community college. Just puts kids ahead of the game and more cheaply.

Mama Luxe said...

To the parents who have started accounts in your kid's name (to be filled with your child's gifts, paper route money, etc.), you may want to talk with an adviser about how that money will be viewed in terms of aid packages. My understanding is they take all the money that is in the kid's name first--so although it makes parenting sense to do it that way, it may not make financial sense.

Also, to the whole conversation, I took out the maximum loans available to me from the government, held part time jobs, and aggressively paid off my loans. Even then, as a middle class student at an Ivy League school, the only way to do it was with substantial contributions from my family.

I think there is a middle ground between funding everything and not over-burdening young people just starting out in their adult lives.

College was a very important experience for me and I don't think it would have been a benefit to miss out on that with two years at a community college (with credits that may not have even transfered) or with 40 hour work weeks.

My parents could help with some of it, I took on the rest, and that worked out well for us. If my parents were unable to help me, then I would have had to go elsewhere or hopefully I would have gotten more aid.

I think ideally the financial aid equations would expect less of a parental contribution when assigning aid. The amount they expect from middle class families is insane.

Michele said...

First time reader and commenter here. I guess I think differently than most of you. Neither of my parents went to college and were pretty poor growing up. However, my dad worked hard to save money when my siblings and I were growing up. And that included saving money for our college. I disagree that those who pay for their own tuition work harder than those who don't. Other than myself, I don't remember one other person in school who went to EVERY class (unless I was sick). Other students blew off classes left and right - those who had their tuition paid for them and those who didn't. I don't see the relationship there. Work ethic is what makes people take their schooling seriously - not who's paying for it. Work ethic is what I was taught by my parents.

Because my tuition was paid for, I've been saving money ever since I started working AFTER college. I had NO debt and therefore I had extra living expenses. I started my retirement fund when I was 21. I have well over $150,000 in it. I am now 40 and I have 3 children (ages 6, 3, and under 1) and they each have a college fund. Each child gets $2000 put away per year for college. I know that won't be enough to pay for it all. But we also have a 15-year mortgage. The mortgage will be paid for before the first goes to college so the money that's going for the mortgage now will go towards college costs. Just for the record, I am a SAHM (I worked until I had children) and my dh makes a modest salary. We live in a very expensive part of the country (Wash, DC).

The difference for me was starting out with no debt. I can pass along the blessings to my children that my paretns passed along to me. By having my parents pay for my college and seeing the hard work my dad (and SAHM) did to get me there, I learned to do the same for my family. I never had debt (other than my mortgage) and I've always saved for the future.

I agree that no one should starve or forgo retirement to save for college. I think the key is to start saving when you're young when compounding interest can work its magic. Teach your children about finances and how to save. I appreciated every penny my parents saved for me.

Anonymous said...

I totally disagree and i am sorry. I am 18 years old and just about graduated from high school. My parents are married and are both very sucessful. My father is making over six figures and my mother works part time making a lot as well. I have 2 older sisters who have already completed college. They are very much so in debt. My parents refuse to pay for our college but will cosign for a loan (which i am thankful for). But it is a struggle. With our economy going down hill it will soon be hard to get a loan. I would understand if my parents were average citizens and got the average income, but they don't. We are very fortunate and its just frustrating to me that they cant pay or help pay maybe half of my college tuition. I know the last thing anyone wants to do is dish out $100,000 to a college, but i feel like we should be getting help because it is no longer a choice anymore. If you want to be sucessful and if you want to be able to support your family then you must attend college. Its just not fair anymore, and i know "lifes not fair" but parents if you make a high amount of money, please consider helping your kids pay for their college. It is very frustrtating and very much so overwhelming.

Scribbit said...

Dear Anonymous, I can appreciate your feelings--having been in your spot myself. My parents were successful and could very easily have paid for not only my college but my five brothers and sisters as well but being wise parents they chose not to.

Both my husband and I were in your same position without parents who were willing to pay our way yet we both worked and saved our way through. Not only did this teach us the importance of hard work, how to organize and balance our time and the importance of sticking with something but it also taught us that smart parents don't make the way easier for their children, they teach them the tools so that they can be stronger and get through.

There are grants, need-based scholarships, grade-based scholarships, student loans and most especially inexpensive community colleges and state schools that someone who is serious about getting an education can take advantage of. You certainly can't afford Harvard on your own dime but you can afford plenty of other schools.

Millions of other have done it, maybe their stories will inspire you to figure out you can do it too.

Good luck to you!

Anonymous said...

Tough luck kids after 18 years old. The way Alaska Child Support has it is to alienate the non custodial parent from their kids and then later in life you think that parent is going to go further broke for your selfish custodial parent in the Alaska system? You kids get a PFD and child support--teach the kids to save their money and they can have a public collegiate experience. Problem is Alaska child support doesn't get it. My ex husband hid all of his Tiger Trust Fund money for IRS and child support purposes. It will catch up. Poor kids.

Carrie said...

Glad I found this post today, it really encourages me. My hubby & I are in ministry, and unless God calls us to a much more financially profitable job someday, there's no way we'll be able to pay for our children's college education. This makes me feel better about that. :)

Christa said...

I am planning to do MBA soon. The tuition fee for the college is around $60K total . If I have around 10K in savings account. what is a better way to pay for fee.

1. to take a full loan or
2. to pay some with this saving and take rest as loan

and in both cases can I get the required amount as loan..??

what are the terms and conditions I would be required to fulfill to get the loan.

and do I need to show that I have $60k as a backup in bank accounts (mine / any relatives)in case I wouldn't be able to payback.

I think that I should keep the 10K safe aside for some other unforeseen purposes. Is it fine..
what do you think.

Thanx in advance for sharing ur knowledge.

Scribbit said...

Well I'm not exactly a financial advisor (though I play one on my blog).

I can't tell you what the terms and conditions of your student loan will exactly be though they tend to have a low interest rate and can be deferred until six months after you graduate so you don't have to start making payments until then.

We took out small loans each year of law school to pay for tuition then consolidated them at the end, which I'd advise if it's still possible.

Keeping some as savings is fine if that makes you feel better, though I'd resist the urge to spend it for fun stuff if it really is savings. Then if you haven't used it you can use it to pay off a chunk of your debt after school.

Student loans are pretty easy to navigate and they're not hard to get though you might be asked to have a cosigner (such as a parent) on the loan. Just remember they're "non-dischargeable" debt which means that if at any time after school you declare bankruptcy the loans cannot be dissolved and forgiven. THey'll stay with you so take them seriously.

One thing to consider is a less-expensive school (if that's possible). $20,000 per year isn't outrageous but it's still on the high side it seems. I've not found that the expensive schools deliver the added value in the job market, they just give you more debt.

Good luck!