Author Topic: How to pay for kid's college?  (Read 14838 times)

caracarn

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How to pay for kid's college?
« on: August 04, 2017, 12:16:20 PM »
So I sat down with one of our kids today to work through some Net Price Calculators (NPC) on several college sites she was interested in.  She has good grades (a little over a 3.9 GPA) got a decent ACT score (29) and so we figured this would put her in good standing for scholarships etc.  In fact we've been telling her as she stresses over college costs the last few months as the mail has been pouring in from all over, that she should be in great shape, as compared to our only other college age student who had a 2.0 GPA and got very little other than basic scholarships the school gave to everyone amounting to about $1,000 per semester.  So anyways, it was a complete shock to me that every NPC comes up between $15- 20K that we would need to foot.  This includes public schools in our state and also some private schools in and out of state.  We have about $20K saved in a 529 and are trying to save as much as we can additionally but with six kids that only amounts to about $2,500/year right now per child.  She is working and has amassed about $4,500 herself in the year since she started working.  I was very disheartened to see how this turned out because we have been trying very, very hard to avoid even considering Parent PLUS loans because we feel they are a very poor risk.  We do not expect a default, but being on the hook for something that is not ours has always seemed like a very poor plan, but all the financial aid offices push that.

After a couple hours on line today, she ended very dejected feeling like there is not real way for her to make this work.  Sadly her high school counselors buy into the marketing hype so they sell the students on the "experience" of college, so she's really bummed about considering two years at a community college first to save some tuition and room and board and then only incur the $20K per year for the last two years (which is much more doable).  She'd like to go to school somewhere for four years and I get that.  I feel like college has been so overpriced at this point (really $40K- $50K for tuition ONLY at some not high end schools like Tulane and Roanoke College?!) that it has made it terrible.  Our only other option is to stop saving for ourselves and funnel all the money to the kids college for the next 8 years or so, which also seems like a stupid option to me.  That would give us another $20K per year to divyv up but would absolutely kill any FIRE option and likely threaten any regular retirement option given that we are just 20 years from the normal 67 age for retirement without any early options.

So are there any Mustachians out there that have tackled this ridiculous issue and how did you do it?  Did you give in a sign PLUS loans?  If she was asking for Harvard or Yale, I could feel OK telling her to tone it down, but when Kent State which is in state and public is coming in at $16,000 net price (after Stafford Loans already) .  It's not like she's not looking at options, but when even a base in state school has become so stupidly expensive, is college just becoming something you need to sign your life away for for your kids to go?  HELP!

Laura33

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2017, 12:38:57 PM »
First, yeah, welcome to reality.  Unless you have some incredible "hook," you're not getting a full scholarship.  Even athletic scholarships are usually only partial, unless it's a big sport at a Division I school (e.g., baseball players get a few grand a year).

So the way you play the scholarship game is to start with ignoring public schools entirely, *unless* you have a kid who is a National Merit Scholar (which some schools offer full-pay scholarships for), or can qualify for one of the other major scholarships.  Public schools used to have low tuition in light of their perceived societal obligation to educate their citizenry, but a decade or so ago that philosophy changed to schools "paying their own way," and so costs have gone up dramatically.  This also means that any out-of-state public is right out of the question -- these schools rely on full-pay out-of-state residents to help subsidize in-state tuition, so they will cost even more.

What you need is a private school where your kid will be in the top say 5-10% of the entering class.  Many mid-range privates are trying to increase their "numbers" to get better ratings and attract better students, and so they do this by offering honors scholarships to the kids with the numbers they are trying to attract.  There are a number of these schools that even offer "honors colleges" that include things like separate dorms and smaller classes for the kids in the program.  If you can find some of those places, they will be much more likely to throw money at your kid.

The other part is to try to think about ways that your kid can stand out from the crowd.  I always heard that colleges wanted "well-rounded" students, but my mom (the college prof) told me that what they really want is "angular" students -- kids who are freaking awesome or unique in one area.  They'd rather have someone who was, say, all-state trombone with 1250 SATs than someone who was 6th-chair flute in the HS band and had a 1275.  Geography is another big one:  I was a National Merit scholar myself, and I didn't get into the private that was 1.5 hrs from my home, because everyone else from my area wanted to go there -- but the higher-ranked schools several states away were thrilled not just to let me in, but to throw money at me to come.  So expand your research to smaller schools in different parts of the country.

Good luck.  It's very depressing.
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Felipe

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2017, 12:45:46 PM »
There is a cheap, cost-effective way to handle college in USA and an expensive, fun but debt-inducing way.

The cheap way is live at home and go to the local community college for 2 years-join the honors program and get straight A's. You can jump right into the junior year. We use assist.org in California to figure out which classes transfer over. Ratemyprofessor helps you find which teachers are actually good or easy. My best teachers came from community college, not university.

Community college living at home with cost around 50/unit so 60 units for the first 2 years is $3000 for the first 2 years of education (4 full time semesters and 2 summers).

Then comes the last 2 years. There are 3 types of public universities in California: UC (15k/yr), Polytech (San Luis Obispo at 11k/yr), and CSU (7.2k/yr).

CSU's and Tech are better for hands on experience, UCs are better for research.

Assuming we take the 7.2k/yr for 2 years and live at home those 4 years:
2*3k+2*7.2k=20.4k total for the 4 years with 0 scholarships. So your 529+ her savings cover college.

Some schools are horribly overpriced, don't go even if they have good marketing that's convinced you it's special. It's not, you'll learn the same things at most schools. Unless it carries the wow factor in the name like oxford, the school won't matter much once she's passed the entry level job. Her portfolio of skills and work will matter more in the end.

In my opinion, the real value of college is in making connections with good teachers. There are horrible teachers at universities everywhere, even the expensive ones. You're better off putting that money into a trust in your daughter's name that's invested half US, half international index than going 50-100k into debt.

My friend went to UCSC for Biology and she worked as a catering waitress after to pay off the debt. Multiple of my girlfriends still had over 10k of college debt 15 years after finishing college. It's worth it to find a no debt way to pull it off.

As Laura said, some small private schools will cover almost everything. I found one in the midwest like that but it was run down, mold problems, insect problems, didn't seem serious, didn't seem like a fit. ymmv

There are ways she can get a good college education without debt. The 25k saved should be enough with some brain power to figure out the best way to meet her education needs with that money.

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2017, 12:52:35 PM »
From what I recall, there are a few very prestigious colleges that automatically give free tuition to kids who can get accepted but whose parents make less than 100-125k. Stanford is one.

Other than that, look at tier 2 colleges. Those are private colleges that are just below Ivy League. I went to one of those - Agnes Scott College (all women's college). The scholarship they gave me covered more than the one I got from UGA, even getting free tuition due to GA Hope scholarship.

I loved ASC and would hands down recommend it and other all-women's colleges to any smart, fiesty girl who wants to go to college today. They attract a different kind of student - one who is interested in academics and leadership rather than partying - and the experience of going to school where gender bias wasn't a factor really shaped who I am and how I deal with working in a male dominated field. My classmates have done so many cool things since graduation and are an awesome bunch of women to know.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2017, 01:09:47 PM by NeonPegasus »

ysette9

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2017, 01:07:02 PM »
I realize your kid would be disappointed by not getting the "experience of a four-year a school, but I think some reframing would help. First, college is not fun. It is not supposed to be fun. That is not the point. The point is to make this investment in your future that the future you will reap great benefits from. If you work your butt off in college then you will have the rest of your life to play and will have more fun and more $ to buy yourself toys. If you have fun in college then your future self will pay the price for decades to come.

I second other opinions about the quality of education at junior colleges. I did two years at junior college and then went on to UC Berkeley for undergrad and Stanford for grad. I had some great mediocre teachers at all three places, but the junior college experience was probably the best.
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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2017, 01:19:16 PM »
I second (or third) the advice to find a private school with a good endowment where your child is in the top 25% in terms of grades / ACT score.  They will likely throw more money or at least a better aid package at your child.

If all of the NPC calculators are throwing the same number at you, that's because that's how much the colleges think you can pay (your EFC).  Get some books from the library to find out how the colleges calculate EFC, and start to see if there are ways you can change your financial situation to lower your EFC.  For colleges that use the FAFSA (most of them), home equity is excluded but checking account balances are included.  It may make sense to pay down your mortgage.

Kids' incomes and assets are heavily assessed (effectively taxed).  A book I read recently advocated that time your child spends on a job could be better spent working on improving grades or test scores.  Could she retake the ACT and do better?

I have three kids.  The way I've handled it so far is to save up enough for 4 years of in-state public university tuition/fees/room/board/transportation/books for each of them in 529's and ESA's.  This took a lot of effort over the past 22 years.  With those two vehicles, one can move money back and forth from kid to kid depending on what they end up doing.  Being FIREd, I am also trying to arrange my financial situation such that we have a low EFC.  I am also trying to make sure I qualify for the various education tax credits that are available.  I also talk to my kids about looking at the price of colleges and making sure they take price into account as a factor - not that it is the only thing, but at least a factor to consider.  There are also schools out there that don't have quite the marketing that other schools do but they quietly do a good job for lower costs - you have to search to find them, but they are out there.

I plan to do the best I can to avoid PLUS and other co-signed loans for my kids and aim for them to avoid loans as well.  If I had six kids and didn't have the savings to pay all of it, I would say to them early and often, "OK, kid, your Mom and I are saving $X per year for you for your college fund, and you should appreciate that contribution from us, but you're going to have to figure out the rest."  Most people's advice is to not short-shrift your retirement savings for kids' college costs.

Someone mentioned Stanford for free.  Most Ivy League schools have similar programs because they have huge endowments that are tax free now only because they have agreed to use some of those funds to help lower-to-middle-income families with costs.  The government leaned on them a few years back that they might lose their tax free status if they didn't.  In addition to Stanford, Harvard and Princeton also do the same thing.

Good luck!
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Wexler

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2017, 01:24:50 PM »
I think it really depends on what she wants to do with her life.  There are jobs and careers for which having a 2-year college or community college on her transcript will close doors.  Those tend to be high prestige jobs like investment banking or management consulting.  I'm not saying it's fair or defending the practice in any way, but I think that there's a social class element to it: certain jobs like to mine only from the upper middle class or higher, and college choice just serves as a marker for social class. I do hiring, and I wouldn't count a 2-year college against an applicant, but I have experienced that some people tend to see it as a negative.

However, the good news is that for many (most) careers, this isn't much of a factor.  If your daughter's stats are that good, I'd focus on the state schools where you live and wait to see their aid packages.  You likely won't pay anything close to sticker at private schools. I'd also grab some of those ranking of schools that do best by their students in terms of future earnings and focus on those schools with the best ROIs.

Righty

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2017, 01:34:49 PM »
Have you filled out the FAFSA yet?

Heroes821

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2017, 01:38:07 PM »
What I'm not seeing here is your Daughter's goals.  If she is heading into college this soon she is either an adult or almost an adult. Point her to MMM 50 jobs that make over 50k. Show her the zero to hero post.  Let her see from someone other than a parent, a real person out in the real world that most of the college marketing is smoke and mirrors.

That being said, if Kent state is local, you're in north east Ohio and while Youngstown has a well deserved garbage reputation as a city. YSU is one of the upper tier Engineering schools.  They have good Scholarships and low state prices.  All of my co-graduates High School (2006) that went to YSU and joined the engineering programs. Either Mechanical, Chemical, Electrical or Computer that graduated started with 70-80k+ jobs. And that was in 2010 when "jobs were scarce".

But like I said I don't see what your daughter wants to do. Explain to her the problem with entering a tens of thousands of dollar commitment when her plan is "I'll figure out what I want to do freshman year" vs waiting 1 year to work and save or go to community college for much cheaper elective courses.  It's also significantly easier to apply as a transfer student in my experience than it was applying to college out of high school.

ysette9

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2017, 01:39:01 PM »
Quote
There are jobs and careers for which having a 2-year college or community college on her transcript will close doors. 

I am by no means an authority here, but that just strikes me as false. I transferred to Berkeley and I got the same degree on the same diploma as my husband who went there for four years. Except for the pre-employment verification where HR confirmed that what I put in my application was factual (post job offer acceptance), no one knew I went to JC. It just doesn't come up unless you put it on your resume. I certainly don't have it on my resume now and any background verification will turn up a legitimate degree. Same with Stanford: no one knows I went part-time while working because my degree is just as valid as those who went there full time.

If something like that narrows your opportunities in life then I suspect they are few, far between, and likely of the sort your kid already isn't in the running for since you are not some upper class, connected, special family.
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yachi

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #10 on: August 04, 2017, 02:04:33 PM »
Parent PLUS... being on the hook for something that is not ours has always seemed like a very poor plan, but all the financial aid offices push that.

Parent PLUS loans are loans made to, ummm, Parents.  You might be thinking of cosigning student loans, where you add your name to the loan because of your kids lack of credit history.

I wonder if you could build up your kids credit rating by adding them as authorized users to your credit cards.

Wexler

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #11 on: August 04, 2017, 02:06:31 PM »
Quote
There are jobs and careers for which having a 2-year college or community college on her transcript will close doors. 

I am by no means an authority here, but that just strikes me as false. I transferred to Berkeley and I got the same degree on the same diploma as my husband who went there for four years. Except for the pre-employment verification where HR confirmed that what I put in my application was factual (post job offer acceptance), no one knew I went to JC. It just doesn't come up unless you put it on your resume. I certainly don't have it on my resume now and any background verification will turn up a legitimate degree. Same with Stanford: no one knows I went part-time while working because my degree is just as valid as those who went there full time.

If something like that narrows your opportunities in life then I suspect they are few, far between, and likely of the sort your kid already isn't in the running for since you are not some upper class, connected, special family.

Agree totally-but there definitely are some.  For example, if you want to do IB straight out of college, they will require your transcripts as well as your resume. Same with Bain or similar. I've looked at a ton of college transcripts, and they do indicate that you've transferred in credits from other schools.  But, more importantly, I agree with your general take that, outside of just a few fields, it won't matter much.  I just thought I'd mention those fields, if only because many entering college students want to enter them.

caracarn

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #12 on: August 05, 2017, 06:11:46 AM »
First, yeah, welcome to reality.  Unless you have some incredible "hook," you're not getting a full scholarship.  Even athletic scholarships are usually only partial, unless it's a big sport at a Division I school (e.g., baseball players get a few grand a year).

So the way you play the scholarship game is to start with ignoring public schools entirely, *unless* you have a kid who is a National Merit Scholar (which some schools offer full-pay scholarships for), or can qualify for one of the other major scholarships.  Public schools used to have low tuition in light of their perceived societal obligation to educate their citizenry, but a decade or so ago that philosophy changed to schools "paying their own way," and so costs have gone up dramatically.  This also means that any out-of-state public is right out of the question -- these schools rely on full-pay out-of-state residents to help subsidize in-state tuition, so they will cost even more.

What you need is a private school where your kid will be in the top say 5-10% of the entering class.  Many mid-range privates are trying to increase their "numbers" to get better ratings and attract better students, and so they do this by offering honors scholarships to the kids with the numbers they are trying to attract.  There are a number of these schools that even offer "honors colleges" that include things like separate dorms and smaller classes for the kids in the program.  If you can find some of those places, they will be much more likely to throw money at your kid.

The other part is to try to think about ways that your kid can stand out from the crowd.  I always heard that colleges wanted "well-rounded" students, but my mom (the college prof) told me that what they really want is "angular" students -- kids who are freaking awesome or unique in one area.  They'd rather have someone who was, say, all-state trombone with 1250 SATs than someone who was 6th-chair flute in the HS band and had a 1275.  Geography is another big one:  I was a National Merit scholar myself, and I didn't get into the private that was 1.5 hrs from my home, because everyone else from my area wanted to go there -- but the higher-ranked schools several states away were thrilled not just to let me in, but to throw money at me to come.  So expand your research to smaller schools in different parts of the country.

Good luck.  It's very depressing.
Thanks for the great info.  Would you happen to have some examples of these "mid-range privates"?  Also even if I identify some I am assuming because of the  uniqueness of the situation you are describing their online net price calculator will not show me that my student is one they would "throw money at"?   Is my only way to know if this is the case to have her apply, thereby having to go through application fees to see if we made a good pick?

My daughter has been involved in Science Olympiad since middle school and has been on two teams that have gone to Nationals and placed in the top 10.  I am thinking that would be unique enough to some schools considering her intended major is in the sciences (biology focused but still trying to hone in on exactly what).  Beyond that she's been on makeup/costumes in the theater department for her so far three years in high school, but not sure that will flag anyone's interest.

Also are there any good sites/resources you have found for college scholarships?  The school have them a site, but it seems to big and and general that I'm not sure it will really be useful.

Cgbg

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #13 on: August 05, 2017, 06:26:06 AM »
College confidential has a financial aid and scholarships forum with a pinned thread on just what you're looking for- should be  eat or at the top of top of that forum.

There are some schools that offer scholarships based solely on tests and grades- University of Alabama is one.

Will your daughter consider taking the ACT again? It's a decent score but she may have more options if she can get that up a bit. You're basically looking for full tuition as an award, and that's pretty competitive. Schools have tightened up over even the last few years.

Edited to add: the best scholarships overwhelmingly come from the schools themselves. There are sites for individual scholarships but most of those will be one time only scholarships.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2017, 06:29:38 AM by Cgbg »

caracarn

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #14 on: August 05, 2017, 06:31:27 AM »
I realize your kid would be disappointed by not getting the "experience of a four-year a school, but I think some reframing would help. First, college is not fun. It is not supposed to be fun. That is not the point. The point is to make this investment in your future that the future you will reap great benefits from. If you work your butt off in college then you will have the rest of your life to play and will have more fun and more $ to buy yourself toys. If you have fun in college then your future self will pay the price for decades to come.

I second other opinions about the quality of education at junior colleges. I did two years at junior college and then went on to UC Berkeley for undergrad and Stanford for grad. I had some great mediocre teachers at all three places, but the junior college experience was probably the best.
This is an excellent point and one I've been certainly attempted during our excursion through this process yesterday.  I came across a good book "Right College, Right Price" last year in my library's free book giveaway.  I read it in a couple days last fall and figured it would help me a lot.  It has lists in the back grouping colleges by type so it might help target what Laura is discussing, as it had mid-range private as a category.  We did look at some of these and still had the same issue.  I had a really high bonus in 2015 (which is what the net price calculators ask you to use) so our AGI was over $200K.  Normally we'd be around $190K which I knew would put us out of needs based aid.  Being divorced introduces other issues here but I do not think they are an option.  My ex makes substantially less than I do ($40-$50K) but my kids are with me 80% of the time so I do not think we can use the other household as the one we pull data from. 

Anyway, back to reframing.  The challenge that I seem to have is that the counselors at school are selling the "college is supposed to be fun" process and she also runs in a circle of very high achievers.  She was in tears explaining how one of her classmates was accepted to Harvard but ended up choosing Ohio State for a full ride academic scholarship instead.  Another has a full ride to MIT.  They may be National Merit, I do not know that.  I have explained the purpose of college almost exactly as you mentioned above, but obviously my version is not as entertaining as what her counselors are telling her.  For example, she has for some reason decided that Tulane is her #1 choice simply because she wants to be in New Orleans.  My wife and I have explained she can go to school somewhere much more affordable and vacation in New Orleans as much as she wants as an adult and be there for fun versus trying to study and get good grades.  She gets it but as this point is in the stage of disappointment.  She's just been sold the marketing hype by her high school and so I'm fighting against that.

caracarn

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #15 on: August 05, 2017, 06:40:36 AM »
College confidential has a financial aid and scholarships forum with a pinned thread on just what you're looking for- should be  eat or at the top of top of that forum.

There are some schools that offer scholarships based solely on tests and grades- University of Alabama is one.

Will your daughter consider taking the ACT again? It's a decent score but she may have more options if she can get that up a bit. You're basically looking for full tuition as an award, and that's pretty competitive. Schools have tightened up over even the last few years.

Edited to add: the best scholarships overwhelmingly come from the schools themselves. There are sites for individual scholarships but most of those will be one time only scholarships.
I've talked with her about retaking the ACT.  She's reluctantly willing.   Her reasoning is that she did not feel there were any questions she did not know how to do etc. so she thinks she'll just get the same score, so she views it as a waste of time.  I did how her how for one school she was looking at their grid for merit scholarships showed that the difference between $8,000 per year or $12,000 per year was one point higher than what she got (she had a 29 and the next range was 30-33).  So she gets that even that one point could make a big difference. 

I assume there is no good way to see the scholarships for the schools themselves too easily. 

marion10

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #16 on: August 05, 2017, 06:47:42 AM »
My kids are 25 and 29, so my experiences are fairly recent, but things may have changed. I personally don't know anyone who did well chasing all those scholarships on the internet. Both my kids got pretty decent scholarships as others have described by going to midrange schools. We did not get the scholarships until they had been admitted and got the financial aid award letter. In my  daughter's case, she had gotten more from another school, but my husband called up her preferred school and they gave her about $4,000 more a year.  My kids went to an old, established high school (over 100 years) in a fairly wealthy midwestern suburb. The high school has several scholarships they give out, although my kids did not get any of those. Maybe if you are going into investment banking on the east coast, community college. My kids also took AP classes- and the tests and got a significant amount of college credit that way. They possibly could have finished in 3 years- but used the extra credit to study abroad or do an internship and still finish in 4 years.  Even then, we still paid between $20-$25 per year per kid. We had saved enough to cover about two years and then paid the rest as we went along. I had worked part time for many years and the got a full time job- so that extra went to tuition. No loans.

caracarn

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #17 on: August 05, 2017, 06:49:06 AM »
The authorized user on our credit cards is intriguing.  We have an excellent credit score (800+).  For those that have done that, I just call and add them but do not have to give them a card (I get their will send one), right?  Also given that she is entering her senior year and therefore would just have a year or so before she'd need any loans do you think that would be enough time?  Does it create any exposure against my credit or allow the kids to call the credit card company and make changes themselves?  I ask this last seemingly strange question because I have step-kids (one who is also a senior next year) that I'd do the same think with (adding them as authorized user), but my wife's ex is a con artist extraordinaire and if he ever got wind that one of his kids had access to our credit line he's be all over maxing it out before we knew what happened.  Without her having a card that limits it, but I want to be sure they can't them just call and have a card sent to another address without me approving it as the primary cardholder.

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #18 on: August 05, 2017, 06:52:31 AM »
Southern Methodist University in Dallas actively recruits women for its excellent engineering school. We did not qualify for need-based aid but DS received 2 merit scholarships there that paid 60% of the 4 years of his Electrical Engineering & Math degrees, & was a TA that paid 100% of his EE masters degree. He graduated in the top fifth of his high school & had 700 Math & 760 English SAT scores. He had a tutor for optimizing SAT time & took it twice; many schools 'super score', taking the highest score from each section. Starting in high school, he worked summer internships in various computer & engineering related industries which helped him to further decide what he wanted to pursue in school & they paid well. As for fun in college, the serious STEM (science, tech, engineering, math) students discover that you get to pick 2 out of the following 3: study, social, sleep. The ones that pick social don't last in STEM. DS had several excellent job offers 6 months before he graduated.

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #19 on: August 05, 2017, 06:55:44 AM »
There is no need to add your child as an authorized user on a credit card for student loans. They will be eligible themselves because they are students.

AmberTheCat

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #20 on: August 05, 2017, 08:39:31 AM »
i have 2 kids in college, and 2 more to go. I came to this forum looking for advice, too! (should we cash out some of our ROTH IRA for college expenses??)

someone above mentioned the web site College Confidential dot com. the forums there are excellent, with very knowledgeable active posters. Start reading through those forums. I'm hooked!  You might get some new ideas for colleges. You would be considered in the "donut hole" -- you make too much for FA, but you dont have huge savings for the costs.

The money thing is hard.  you can't take advantage of the AOTC (a 2500 credit on taxes that phases out right below your AGI) Like us, you dont have a lot of savings specifically for college, and have other kids to consider. You wont get much in need-based grants from private schools because financial Aid is very very income-based. Even if you tried financial gymnastics (such as paying off your mortgage, or spending your assets) there will be very little need-based grants because your income is high.  And need based grants come from private higher-ranked colleges mostly, with higher costs to begin with, not from small public and private colleges as much.

so, to lower college costs IF YOU dont want much debt you can look for merit scholarships at lower-ranking schools, as they are trying to attract higher-stats kids to help their rankings. Look through the "automatic full Tuition" thread on the college confidential  web site (financial aid & scholarships forum). Look also at NAIA colleges and small christian colleges. HBCUs are options too. Small, directional colleges might offer good scholarships. 

The higher the ACT/SAT the better the scholarships. A few more points might help. Or not! depending on the colleges. EG: my daughter looked at Iowa State; they offered the same amount discount to anyone with a 28 or above basically. But, it was still pricey, and didnt compare to our in-state system.  Out -of-state publics are pricey. Above someone else said the best scholarships come from the colleges themselves. Yep, it's true.  Also, her senior year, perhaps she can load up on Dual Enrollment classes and or AP classes to help as well. Transferring in those credits saves!

Room and Board is a killer. Very few places offer full-rides, and i see that as fair. Schools really dont need to pay for my kids to sleep or eat.  And, freshmen are often required to live on campus and you cant get out of that till soph year or later. So - take that into consideration - savings can be found by living off campus a few years into school, so your cost of college can go down a bit.

I'm guessing that her part-time earnings, your contributions, your savings and her loans can cover tuition at your state colleges, and tuition after scholarships from smaller, unranked LACs.

so thats the big question -- R&B?? - does she live away at school; and how important is that?    is it worth it? Do you want to take out loans for that? take another job? cash out iras? We are trying to figure this out too. You are not alone!

(personally, my spouse and i LOVED our years away at college and not living at home. its worth it to us to provide those experiences for our kids. But - that comes at a cost. We are hoping to get through this all with no loans at all).
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Laserjet3051

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #21 on: August 05, 2017, 11:08:14 AM »
caracarn:

I am in a similar boat as you. My older daughter, who is very interested in biology, but not yet decided on career path, is looking into colleges with me and the numbers, especially for in-state schools are very depressing.

Personally, I will not take on PLUS loans to help her. I will also not allow her to assume too much debt to go to school. A modest amount, in proportion to her earning potential, will be acceptable. We do not have nearly enough saved in her 529 account at this time. She is a top athlete, both in state and nationally in track and field. We hope this will yield something financially, but do understand the limits/implications.

I think the 2 year JC/CC- Uni split model is potentially a great way to negotiate the college system But my reservations are that many CCs do not even come close in quality to the flagship state Us, at least here in CA. And quality can be manifest in many ways; access to high quality networks where your UC prof used to be head of the State Dept, or is on the B.O.D of a Dow Jones corp. Sure there are exceptions and I dont know every CC out there, but this is my concern about the CC/Uni model to reducing expenses.

Over the past few years my radar has been ultra-sensitive to small local scholarships. I am seeing a lot of these around. I am expecting/hoping that if my daughter can apply to 50 separate $2,500 scholarships and can even get 5% of them, that extra $12,500 per year can make a huge difference in cost. She is extremely bright and I can certainly help her with these, so I remain optimistic. A little initiative can go a long way here.

Yes, playing around with each colleges (especially in state public Uni) expected family contribution is depressing. Here in CA, you have to live in cardboard box on the street before the state will fork over any help.

Good luck!

marion10

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #22 on: August 05, 2017, 11:25:17 AM »
Many times the school will reduce their aid if you get an outside scholarship- read things carefully.

Laserjet3051

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #23 on: August 05, 2017, 12:07:26 PM »
Many times the school will reduce their aid if you get an outside scholarship- read things carefully.

Good point. But at present, the "expected family contribution" calculators are showing ZERO aid for me, with the exception that they are calling LOANS "financial aid." What a perversion of language.

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #24 on: August 05, 2017, 12:15:49 PM »
Many times the school will reduce their aid if you get an outside scholarship- read things carefully.

Good point. But at present, the "expected family contribution" calculators are showing ZERO aid for me, with the exception that they are calling LOANS "financial aid." What a perversion of language.

From books I have read on the subject, unsubsidized loans should not be included as meeting financial need (COA - EFC).  Subsidized loans can be included in financial aid packages.

As for scholarships, people are supposed to notify the school about outside scholarships.  I'm sure people make mistakes and don't, or are unscrupulous and don't.  A book I read said that you can ask the FAO to reduce the less favorable part of a package due to outside scholarships, since you're in effect saving them money.
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tralfamadorian

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #25 on: August 05, 2017, 12:16:29 PM »
To throw a curve ball, would she consider going to school in Europe?  There are many colleges in continental Europe that teach bachelor's degrees in English, are much easier to get into we are used to in the US and are comparatively inexpensive.

Link to bachelorsportal of Biology related bachelor's degrees in Europe ranked by tuition costs:
https://tinyurl.com/y8t9pybc
« Last Edit: August 05, 2017, 12:25:40 PM by kellyincville »

Cgbg

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #26 on: August 05, 2017, 01:09:40 PM »
OP, Tulane was my oldest son's #1 choice two years ago. He's a high stats kid- 2350 SAT (old version), 35 ACT, straight As, National merit, lots of research internships, took college level math in high school (Calc 2,3 and 4, differential equations, linear algebra and discrete math). He got into Tulane and got their first round scholarship and was invited to apply for the next round. He poured his heart and soul into the application for the second round, coming up with a project that he felt showed them who he was.

End result? Nada. Not invited to interview for be final round. He was bummed.

He got over Tulane.

He looked at Northeastern too. He got in and got their scholarship that would've meant $18k/year all in. He opted for Pitt (more love shown to him via scholarships.) His younger brother applied to Northeastern last year and got in, but they changed the program and the scholarship isn't nearly as good (still left $30k/year cost.) He ended up at an out of state public that offered a scholarship that covers most of the cost.

Things change from year to year. That college confidential site has a lot of posters that keep up on the changes. I watched kids get way less at Pitt last year than my kid had gotten the year before.

caracarn

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #27 on: August 05, 2017, 03:05:19 PM »
There is no need to add your child as an authorized user on a credit card for student loans. They will be eligible themselves because they are students.
Not being clear.  To get her a credit score I am wondering if adding them would help.  My oldest tried to apply for private loans at six different banks.  Turned down at all of them because of no credit score, so they are not just eligible because they are students.  I think you are thinking of the Stafford Loans.  Those are already in the cost calculators, so the 20-25K left is AFTER the loans they are stright eligible for because they are students.  I'm trying to find a way to have them qualify for a loan on their own without a parent co-signer/PLUS loan.

Cyanne

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #28 on: August 05, 2017, 04:14:34 PM »
Adding your child as an authorized user can raise your child's credit score but it won't help your child get a loan. It is very unlikely that a college student can get a loan without a co-signer since they won't have enough income to qualify for loans on their own.

crispy

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #29 on: August 05, 2017, 05:10:08 PM »
I would also encourage retaking the ACT. I had a 29 and decided to take it again to try for a 30+. I got it, and it was the differences between a half scholarship and a full scholarship for me.

englishteacheralex

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #30 on: August 05, 2017, 05:28:27 PM »
I realize your kid would be disappointed by not getting the "experience of a four-year a school, but I think some reframing would help. First, college is not fun. It is not supposed to be fun. That is not the point. The point is to make this investment in your future that the future you will reap great benefits from. If you work your butt off in college then you will have the rest of your life to play and will have more fun and more $ to buy yourself toys. If you have fun in college then your future self will pay the price for decades to come.

I second other opinions about the quality of education at junior colleges. I did two years at junior college and then went on to UC Berkeley for undergrad and Stanford for grad. I had some great mediocre teachers at all three places, but the junior college experience was probably the best.
This is an excellent point and one I've been certainly attempted during our excursion through this process yesterday.  I came across a good book "Right College, Right Price" last year in my library's free book giveaway.  I read it in a couple days last fall and figured it would help me a lot.  It has lists in the back grouping colleges by type so it might help target what Laura is discussing, as it had mid-range private as a category.  We did look at some of these and still had the same issue.  I had a really high bonus in 2015 (which is what the net price calculators ask you to use) so our AGI was over $200K.  Normally we'd be around $190K which I knew would put us out of needs based aid.  Being divorced introduces other issues here but I do not think they are an option.  My ex makes substantially less than I do ($40-$50K) but my kids are with me 80% of the time so I do not think we can use the other household as the one we pull data from. 

Anyway, back to reframing.  The challenge that I seem to have is that the counselors at school are selling the "college is supposed to be fun" process and she also runs in a circle of very high achievers.  She was in tears explaining how one of her classmates was accepted to Harvard but ended up choosing Ohio State for a full ride academic scholarship instead.  Another has a full ride to MIT.  They may be National Merit, I do not know that.  I have explained the purpose of college almost exactly as you mentioned above, but obviously my version is not as entertaining as what her counselors are telling her.  For example, she has for some reason decided that Tulane is her #1 choice simply because she wants to be in New Orleans.  My wife and I have explained she can go to school somewhere much more affordable and vacation in New Orleans as much as she wants as an adult and be there for fun versus trying to study and get good grades.  She gets it but as this point is in the stage of disappointment.  She's just been sold the marketing hype by her high school and so I'm fighting against that.

This stuff by high school counselors really gets my goat. I work at a private high school school and see this kind of thing play out with the seniors all the time. Kids are brainwashed to see college as a magical Disney vacation at a name-brand lifestyle school where they learn things without trying, make a million friends, and do very little other than party and self-actualize.

The disappointment for some of them (the lucky ones, in my opinion) when their parents sit down with them and have a conversation about reality makes for some very dramatic scenes in the cafeteria, let me tell you. I've seen more than a few girls weeping with friends about not being able to go to Point Loma or Pepperdine after all. Oh, brother. The only thing that keeps me from rolling my eyes is the sad truth that...

I was the exact same way.

I had my heart set on Bard college in upstate NY and was in such a state of entitled rage at my parents for not signing the $35k/year loan (this was in 1998, mind you) that I would barely speak to them at my HS graduation. I went to SUNY Geneseo more or less for free because of scholarships and raged about it the whole time, despite the excellent education and the year I was able to spend in France.

Chinua Achebe taught at Bard. Chinua. Achebe. He wrote Things Fall Apart, my favorite book from AP Lit class. I was offered my first joint at my college overnight stay at Bard. There were so many cute guys there. The cafeteria had vegetarian food. My high school crush was going there. It was going to be awesome.

Do you know how much my life would have been ruined if I went to Bard? $100k+ for an undergraduate degree in English? I became an English teacher, a career I was born for. Can you imagine how awful it would have been for me to have been saddled with that kind of student loan?

I still have a complicated relationship with my authoritarian parents, but I thank my lucky stars every time I see a weeping high school senior that they were hard asses about not signing that loan and that I didn't go to Bard college. My high school crush who went to Bard turned into a pot smoking atheist and, last I checked, was writing a PhD dissertation about the book of Galatians. His main source of income was tutoring kids in Chicago for the SAT. I mean, seriously?
« Last Edit: August 05, 2017, 05:31:48 PM by englishteacheralex »
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Cranky

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #31 on: August 05, 2017, 06:04:45 PM »
I think there are a lot of ways to approach this, and I've sent 3 kids to college who ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous. ;-)

Your problem is not the tuition, but the room and board, and not many schools give you much of a break on that. You have to be super awesome for that to happen.

Also, biology is a very popular major - schools aren't motivated to give you a big break on that, either.

But let me agree with the poster up thread who recommended YSU! It's darned cheap, and the biology department is great! (In the interests of full disclosures sure, my dh is the chair of that department.) There has been a lot of construction done on and around campus in the last couple of years, and it really looks nice - there are a lot of new dorms.

You might also look at the surrounding states - I know that Eastern Michigan gives in state tuition to Ohio residents. I think some of the PA schools do the same.

I think that it really is a good experience for kids to get out of the house for college, if you can swing it, but I don't think it's a bad thing to commute for the first year or two, either.

teen persuasion

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #32 on: August 05, 2017, 09:50:55 PM »
Some scholarships are out there, each of my college kids have been offered academic scholarships so far, even my less academically excellent kids.  They were offered these scholarships before the schools had seen our FAFSA info (old January application schedule, at least initially). 

Different schools offer different aid packages.  DD1's first choice school gapped her an amount that was 50% of our income.  She appealed, but they just pushed parent loans, and gently suggested she might be happier elsewhere.  She was very happy at her second choice that did not gap her, and was closer to home (less travel expenses, in-state grants).  DS2 got a slightly better offer from his second choice school, and contacted his first choice school to ask if they could match it.  They asked to see the offer, and beat it.  Those were private schools.  DD3 and DS4 now attend state schools where tuition + fees for each is ~$8k (very reasonable) while R&B runs $12k for each now (up from $10k/yr when DD1 began).  All of the kids have learned to reduce living expenses by moving to off campus apartments with roommates and dropping meal plans in favor of cooking for themselves. 

They've also found jobs on and off campus for summers to supplement their income.  DS4 just spent the summer as an orientation leader - he received a stipend, but also on-campus housing and food for the summer.  DD3 has a standing job in the campus library.  DS2 worked summers in a factory - he could get nearly unlimited overtime, so earned a good bit in a few months.  DD1 worked in the laser lab.

Don't put all your eggs in one basket - apply to a variety of schools to see who offers the best package, and to try to negotiate a better package if possible.  The best package is not the biggest scholarships, it's the lowest net price.  The school DH and I attended offered bigger scholarships to DS4, but his state school ultimately cost less in the long run.  It's also a better school for his major.

Pigeon

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #33 on: August 06, 2017, 03:43:07 AM »
Many times the school will reduce their aid if you get an outside scholarship- read things carefully.

Good point. But at present, the "expected family contribution" calculators are showing ZERO aid for me, with the exception that they are calling LOANS "financial aid." What a perversion of language.

From books I have read on the subject, unsubsidized loans should not be included as meeting financial need (COA - EFC).  Subsidized loans can be included in financial aid packages.

As for scholarships, people are supposed to notify the school about outside scholarships.  I'm sure people make mistakes and don't, or are unscrupulous and don't.  A book I read said that you can ask the FAO to reduce the less favorable part of a package due to outside scholarships, since you're in effect saving them money.
My dd got a few private scholarships and they all required that the funds be paid directly to the college. The private scholarships would come right off any grants from the college. The option of trying to cheat about this didn't exist.

Our guidance counselor didn't push privates over publics. She provided info about both. That pressure comes from the kid's peer group.

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #34 on: August 06, 2017, 09:14:53 AM »
Quote
There are jobs and careers for which having a 2-year college or community college on her transcript will close doors. 

I am by no means an authority here, but that just strikes me as false. I transferred to Berkeley and I got the same degree on the same diploma as my husband who went there for four years. Except for the pre-employment verification where HR confirmed that what I put in my application was factual (post job offer acceptance), no one knew I went to JC. It just doesn't come up unless you put it on your resume. I certainly don't have it on my resume now and any background verification will turn up a legitimate degree. Same with Stanford: no one knows I went part-time while working because my degree is just as valid as those who went there full time.

If something like that narrows your opportunities in life then I suspect they are few, far between, and likely of the sort your kid already isn't in the running for since you are not some upper class, connected, special family.

I looked into it here, and found very few times was there any impact...  especially for finance and engineering type degrees lawyers, etc.   It matters about the last 2 (or 3 if you are a lawyer) years only.

Where it did matter was some humanities programs, where you had great summer co-op opportunities in junior years (an archeaology dig, for example or an art history exchange with a sister school in Paris), that just were not available at the junior college, but made a big difference.   For some reason, Psychology licensing is quite difficult to get here without added years, if you don't start a single track and continue for 8 years with the same school.

-----------

Money for kids -- Have you considered the fact that while your daughter is at school, you do not have to pay for her food, utilities, spending money, transportation etc as when she lives at home?  That is some savings.  Especially if you think of it this way...
6 kids x $2500 = $15k per year.

So, continue to spend $15k per year on the kids schooling-- targeting the money to the kids that are actually in school over the next 8 years, rather than saving for the youngest now.   Kids will complete school and drop out the top end, giving more money to the kids just entering.

   Add that to the savings of not having kids living at home with you, and you may find you are closing in on $20k per year available for costs.   Do the math, so that each kid gets the same amount of money (inflation adjusted), in the end.   Some parents even subtract out scholarships, as it is the OPPORTUNITY to go to college that they are guaranteeing, not the actual dollar amount.

NPC calculation will drop as more and more of your kids are in university at the same time, too.  I think these calculations take the total disposable income to be applied to school, and divide  by the number of kids in univeristy that year.   So you may remain at $15k-$25k no matter how many kids are in school at once.

With 6 kids, are you certain that all 6 will be going to a 4 year college away from home?  Some may WANT community college locally or trade programs.
   
Also, here we get a tax credit on the tuition costs -- do you get refund in the USA on your tax return?  That adds up.

Other thoughts -- married kids, those out of high school for 4 years (and working full time), etc, do not have the same NPC calculations.

 Private scholarships do exist, so apply to all of them.  DD applied to over 20 this year, most only $1k each, with her GPA of 3.9 and community service, and received over $13k in money... She chose a "second tier" university which gave her a full year of tuition, too, because all the 4.0 GPA students wanted to go to the top tier names, even if they had to pay.

Lots of kids change their major / degree after 1-2 years in college, so transfer after 2 years may very well be in order, regardless.

I like the recommendation to see what the state school will offer you, and to look for cheaper 4 year colleges that have great transfer credits...  I do understand that with 5 siblings, you daughter may just want to have her own independence after high school and be away from home for a while.

Laura33

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #35 on: August 06, 2017, 10:12:39 AM »
Ok, so, FWIW, if she is going to compare herself to her friends, she needs to do that on an apples-to-apples-basis.  To be completely blunt, those friends who got full rides to HSS did not do it with a 29 ACT.  And she doesn't even want to spend the time this summer studying so she can try to raise that score?  This is a really critical life lesson for her -- if you want to achieve what others do, you need to put in the effort they do.  Even then there are no guarantees of success -- but if you don't put in the effort, you guarantee failure.  So that aspect of the decision is on her, right now, this minute.  Now that she knows what it takes, is she willing to do her part?  Time to grow up a little.

In terms of the websites, there's one I can't think of right now and will ask DH about.  What you want to do is search by ACT ranges to find a list of places where she is near the top.  Then check the college websites for programs of interest, honors colleges, etc. for a good fit.  But like others have said, you just have to apply and wait for the financial aid package to see.  It seems like her biggest hook is being a female in STEM, specifically that competitive team.  She should look at places like RPI, RIT, WPI -- smaller schools with a STEM focus.

Finally, I wholeheartedly agree with what Goldielocks said.  Most parents cash-flow part of college, including by cutting back on savings.  At $190k income, it's not unreasonable for colleges to expect you to pay some of that, and some of the costs you will be paying for room and board are the costs that you would have paid anyway if she were still at home.  If you are not willing to do that, then the best thing you can do is be straight with your daughter that she either needs to get a full scholarship by busting her ass or plan to go to CC for the first two years + get as many course credits as she can through AP tests and dual-enrollment + plan on work-study and summer jobs.
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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #36 on: August 06, 2017, 11:47:13 AM »
Some great advice here!

My one addition is to check whether any parent / step parent employers offer a scholarship. My dads work's parent company gave me a scholarship all 4 years. I worked during high school and I believe my employer offered one too although I don't remember applying for it.
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penguintroopers

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #37 on: August 06, 2017, 11:53:04 AM »
I'll throw my own knowledge into this thread, because it sounds like your daughter and I have a pretty similar starting point, I'm just 5 years older.

My first time with the ACT, I got a 28. Didn't do anything different, retook and got a 29. Got a test prep book (~$20) went through the whole thing, and my score shot up to a 31 (which is significant when you consider that something like going from the 85th percentile to the 98th percentile on the bell curve). If her school is like mine, there was an associated student scholarship, where X ACT score gave you $Y off tuition. Better scores = more cash saved. This scholarship came with the stipulation that I had to live on campus, but since it was an out of state university I was gonna have to live somewhere, so I might as well be on campus. My senior year I was able to argue myself into a cheaper apartment since I was getting married and was no longer eligible for the dorms, but that would be a more case-by-case basis. The only scholarships I qualified for was the ACT scholarship, and a % off my tuition because my mom taught at a religious school and the college was a religious school as well. For everything else, I either wasn't a person of color, from an economically challenged family, or studying the right thing, and just didn't make the cut for anything I applied to (and its still true now in grad school!).

Here's the thing your daughter may need to hear loud and clear: Last night my husband and I had a sobering experience. We've been penny pinching and trying to dig ourselves out of our student loan debt ($70k when we graduated, now ballooned up to $130k thanks to my graduate education that will be finished next year). We will be spending the next three to four years trying to get out of the mess we've made. We will be delaying all of the normal things people begin to question at our age - particularly buying a house or having kids. We will likely be 29 years old before we can even begin to think about having a child, or consider buying a home.

If we had any idea the financial ramifications to what we were doing, and maybe questioned the adults who kept saying "don't worry about the loans now, just graduate with a degree and it'll all be fine", we likely would have made very different choices with our college decisions. Two years at CC instead of two years at university may stink, but four years of putting off life and living like a college student just to try to un-bury us is much, much worse.

CheapScholar

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #38 on: August 06, 2017, 12:07:39 PM »
I work in Higher Ed and know this game pretty well.  First, Laura33's advice has been spot on.  If your daughter wants a significant college scholarship, she needs to find a private university that wants to pay for a 29 ACT student with good grades.  She will also need to demonstrate leadership.

Here's the problem.  A 29 is good but not phenomenal.  Colleges with loads of money to give away in internal scholarships receive numerous applicants just like her.  Now, there are many small colleges and universities with average ACT scores around 23 that would LOVE to have your daughter on campus.  Problem is, those schools don't hold mega endowments that include scholarship aid.  Another problem is, these small schools are just strapped for cash right now in an environment that looks uncertain.

And, as noted, schools are going to see your household income and see a family that could front the entire tution.  The fact is that nearly no one in your income bracket sends their kids to community colleges in this country (I'm sure someone on this thread might say they did, but it's uncommon).  To be blunt, your high income puts her at a disadvantage for scholarship money.  My suggestion is to have her apply to many small and midsized schools where her 29 ACT would be a top score.  Apply to any school that will waive the application fee.  Then, once the acceptance letters/financial aid packages come in, you need to call or visit the schools and try to negotiate a better offer.  I think the odds she gets offered a full ride that includes room and board are quite low.  If she gets most of her tuition covered, maybe you can pay room and board for two years and she can apply to be an RA.

Good luck.

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #39 on: August 06, 2017, 12:28:15 PM »
I was very disheartened to see how this turned out because we have been trying very, very hard to avoid even considering Parent PLUS loans because we feel they are a very poor risk.  We do not expect a default, but being on the hook for something that is not ours has always seemed like a very poor plan, but all the financial aid offices push that.

I think you have a mis-conception.

A parent plus loan is a loan to the PARENT to help pay for their kid's education, only with repayment terms that are deferred until graduation.   Other than the terms, and the fact that financial aid offices facilitate the applications, it  is not a lot different from a HELOC or other private loan that a parent would take out.

kevj1085

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #40 on: August 06, 2017, 03:32:32 PM »
2 things. If you're physically and mentally capable of work then you've been blessed, use your talents. Why is everyone so hung up on retirement? Retirement from what? Use your abilities good gosh! Give back to the world and be proud you have a job to provide!

2nd, she needs to just deal with community college. I went to a university college for 4 years and not a single class my first 2 years was anything remotely related to my degree. 99% of the time you're literally only paying for the experience the first 2 years, and experience is a vast term which can be had anywhere depending on your outlook. I am 32 and graduated 10 years ago and I realize now it literally did not matter where I went the first 2 years. My parents paid for my college but if I could go back I'd rather live at home the 1st 2 years and ask for the difference in pay to be given to me as free cash instead of the college experience.

But that's just my opinion.

ltt

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #41 on: August 06, 2017, 03:38:22 PM »
Those calculators are pretty much spot on---and, yes, this is how much your cost is going to be.

To split $2500 between 6 kids without trying to come up with any additional funds along the way is going to be next to impossible---it just is.

Where to begin.  Let's work through it.

Our eldest son took the ACT three times---27 all three times; he also did some dual credit classes in high school.  He is attending a private university which has some wonderful, renewable scholarships.  The scholarships cover 1/2 of the total cost.  Still, he (and we) have to come up with around $20K per year.  One of his best friends got a scholarship to a state university that covered tuition, but his friend's score on the ACT was a 33.  Whether our son attended a private university on scholarship or a state school which provided little in the way of scholarships, the out-of-pocket costs were pretty much the same--hovering around $18-$20k per year.

There are ways to do this and still retain your sanity.  First of all, let's assume $10k per semester.  Let's start with the first semester.  Take the 529 $2,500 and your daughter's work money of $4500.  There's $7,000.  Have your daughter take out the student loan the first year.  She will take it out in her name--not yours.  It's $5500....they will split that loan between semesters, so she will receive $2750 per semester.  Now you will have around $9750 for the first semester.  First semester pretty much covered.  The cost of books is pretty nominal.

Now, if you don't like the idea of a loan, have your daughter take it out anyway--at least for the first year.  At this point, I don't see that there is any way of getting around it if you/or she really want to go to a 4-year school.  You could pay the $2750 per semester for her freshman year, so she wouldn't need the loan.

Okay, next step, have your daughter apply for work-study once she goes to college.  There's bound to be something available and every penny helps.  Make sure that money (or the vast majority of it) goes into an account to be used for the second semester.

While your daughter is at university during the first semester, you will have an idea of what the costs will be for the second semester.  With $190k in income (I think I read that), you should be able to come up with the $10k for the second semester.  If you have $190k in income, I'm thinking that you probably have some investment income coming in in December (dividends and capital gains).  $2750 will come from the 2nd half of the student loan.  That will leave around $7000 to cover.  If you have investments, you will be getting dividends and capital gains in December, take some of them to pay the second semester, along with your daughter's work-study money.  I'm assuming we have the first year covered now.

Hold your bonus aside that you receive during her freshman year for her sophomore year.

Onto the sophomore year.  She will have to work during the summer and should easily be able to make $3,000.  Use that money toward tuition.  Put your bonus money that you've held back for that year (not sure how much it is, but I'm assuming it's going to be more than $7,000 since you mentioned it was high and I'm assuming it's continual) toward the tuition.  Have her continue to do work-study.  Depending on where she goes, if she could become a resident assistant (not sure what they are called at every school), I do believe that she can get her room for free, but I think it's hard to come by.  Your bonus, money from her summer job, and some work-study should cover the first semester of her sophomore year. 

While she's in the first semester of her sophomore year, at your income level, you should be able to put away $500 or so per month---August through December--to be used toward the second semester.  Repeat with the second semester----you should be getting dividends and capital gains if invested.  There's no reason you can't use them to cash flow the cost of school, plus money you can put aside each month at your income level.

We have 4 kids.  We have some saved, and we also have to spend my husband's bonus, put a few hundred dollars in savings each month, etc., for our son attending private university, have our son put back his wages from his summer job, and spend some dividends and capital gains.  We also have the education tax credit from our taxes which we set aside to help pay.  I don't believe you have that due to your income.

$2,500 per child is simply not enough for a four-year school.  However, it gives you a little bit of breathing room in the beginning, so you can see and look down the road at what you can do to assist.  If there is any point where there's simply not going to be enough money, she can always take a small student loan out in her sophomore, junior, or senior year.  We had our son take a student loan in his freshman year, but are trying our best to use some of his college funds, some cash, and money from his job for the rest.  So far, so good.     

 

« Last Edit: August 06, 2017, 03:52:40 PM by ltt »

kevj1085

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #42 on: August 06, 2017, 04:00:50 PM »
Wait, you make 190k a year? I don't feel so bad now, make it work.

secondcor521

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #43 on: August 06, 2017, 04:23:17 PM »
I work in Higher Ed and know this game pretty well.  First, Laura33's advice has been spot on.  If your daughter wants a significant college scholarship, she needs to find a private university that wants to pay for a 29 ACT student with good grades.  She will also need to demonstrate leadership.

Here's the problem.  A 29 is good but not phenomenal.  Colleges with loads of money to give away in internal scholarships receive numerous applicants just like her.  Now, there are many small colleges and universities with average ACT scores around 23 that would LOVE to have your daughter on campus.  Problem is, those schools don't hold mega endowments that include scholarship aid.  Another problem is, these small schools are just strapped for cash right now in an environment that looks uncertain.

I don't mean to hijack the thread (OK, maybe a little bit).  I've got a rising junior and am trying to balance a school with a good track record / reputation vs. cost vs. getting in in the first place.  It seems that the less competitive schools are also cheaper (SD School of Mines, 86%, $39K), and as you get more competitive, the price goes up (Rice, 16% admit rate, $58K) and obviously the chances for a scholarship go down for a given student with a given ACT score.

My son is sort of targeting going to a school where he is around the boundary of the top quartile.  He wants to be a big fish in a small pond so to speak - a strategy which I support for multiple reasons.  But I want him to also have peers that are in the same ballpark academically.

Is the top quartile boundary a good one to shoot for as a sweet spot in terms of scholarships and a good education?  I think so and I guess we'll find out anyway.  But I'm trying to pick good schools for him to visit this coming year and can bias the list one way or the other.
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little_brown_dog

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #44 on: August 06, 2017, 06:18:16 PM »
There are also strategies you can employ to reduce costs once she goes to college. I graduated a semester early by carrying heavier courseloads for a few semesters (think 20-21 credits). I never planned on graduating early. It just worked out that once I was in, I realized I could easily manage a heavier courseload for my preferred field without breaking a sweat, so I did. If I had gone into it hoping to graduate in 3 years rather than assuming it would take me the full 4, I could have saved myself an extra semester of tuition by simply tacking on an extra class for a couple more semesters. That extraneous semester is the reason I graduated with any undergrad student loan debt at all and it added a solid year onto my debt repayment timeline. Obviously this depends on your daughter’s major and her academic abilities under heavy workloads, but I find it’s an avenue few consider. You can absolutely complete a bachelors in 3 years (and still graduate Summa or Magna cum laude) if you push. Hell...I did it and I partied hard every Thurs-Sat the entire time. Food for thought.

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #45 on: August 06, 2017, 06:19:20 PM »
I work in Higher Ed and know this game pretty well.  First, Laura33's advice has been spot on.  If your daughter wants a significant college scholarship, she needs to find a private university that wants to pay for a 29 ACT student with good grades.  She will also need to demonstrate leadership.

Here's the problem.  A 29 is good but not phenomenal.  Colleges with loads of money to give away in internal scholarships receive numerous applicants just like her.  Now, there are many small colleges and universities with average ACT scores around 23 that would LOVE to have your daughter on campus.  Problem is, those schools don't hold mega endowments that include scholarship aid.  Another problem is, these small schools are just strapped for cash right now in an environment that looks uncertain.

I don't mean to hijack the thread (OK, maybe a little bit).  I've got a rising junior and am trying to balance a school with a good track record / reputation vs. cost vs. getting in in the first place.  It seems that the less competitive schools are also cheaper (SD School of Mines, 86%, $39K), and as you get more competitive, the price goes up (Rice, 16% admit rate, $58K) and obviously the chances for a scholarship go down for a given student with a given ACT score.

My son is sort of targeting going to a school where he is around the boundary of the top quartile.  He wants to be a big fish in a small pond so to speak - a strategy which I support for multiple reasons.  But I want him to also have peers that are in the same ballpark academically.

Is the top quartile boundary a good one to shoot for as a sweet spot in terms of scholarships and a good education?  I think so and I guess we'll find out anyway.  But I'm trying to pick good schools for him to visit this coming year and can bias the list one way or the other.

It really all depends on the school, its leadership & resources, what their applicant pool looks like the year your child applies.  It also depends if the school has its own elite scholarship cohorts that give a select few the moon.  I've worked at a school with a 50 million dollar endowment and now I'm at one with a 10 billion dollar endowment.  Take the first school with the small endowment.  They have about 100 endowed scholarships and most offer each student about 3K per year (not much, obviously).  The school had an average ACT score of about 25.  But, like any school, they want to land "better" students.  So, basically, they create something like a "President's Scholars" group.  The goal is to offer near free tuition to 5 students per class with hopes those students do amazing things like win Fulbright awards, get great job offers, and live great lives that are worthy of the alumni magazine.  To be in range for that kind of award, I'd say you need to be better than just the top quartile of applicants.  You need to be well above the norm and often there are additional essays or interviews required.  And the money for these programs usually comes from the tuition stream dollars that the other students pay.

Take school 2 with the 10B mega endowment.  Now, only about 1/3 of the endowment is for financial aid and scholarships.  The rest has specific contractual purposes like faculty chairs, cancer research, etc.  BUT, over 3B in endowed scholarship money allows the school to make substantial scholarship offers to nearly every admitted student (we spend 4.5% spinoff each year).  That's why I tell families to apply to a lot of schools and get the final numbers before committing.

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #46 on: August 06, 2017, 08:10:47 PM »
It really all depends on the school, its leadership & resources, what their applicant pool looks like the year your child applies.  It also depends if the school has its own elite scholarship cohorts that give a select few the moon.  I've worked at a school with a 50 million dollar endowment and now I'm at one with a 10 billion dollar endowment.  Take the first school with the small endowment.  They have about 100 endowed scholarships and most offer each student about 3K per year (not much, obviously).  The school had an average ACT score of about 25.  But, like any school, they want to land "better" students.  So, basically, they create something like a "President's Scholars" group.  The goal is to offer near free tuition to 5 students per class with hopes those students do amazing things like win Fulbright awards, get great job offers, and live great lives that are worthy of the alumni magazine.  To be in range for that kind of award, I'd say you need to be better than just the top quartile of applicants.  You need to be well above the norm and often there are additional essays or interviews required.  And the money for these programs usually comes from the tuition stream dollars that the other students pay.

Take school 2 with the 10B mega endowment.  Now, only about 1/3 of the endowment is for financial aid and scholarships.  The rest has specific contractual purposes like faculty chairs, cancer research, etc.  BUT, over 3B in endowed scholarship money allows the school to make substantial scholarship offers to nearly every admitted student (we spend 4.5% spinoff each year).  That's why I tell families to apply to a lot of schools and get the final numbers before committing.

Thanks, that all makes sense.  He certainly will be applying to multiple schools and in the end I'll encourage him to compare our out-of-pocket costs vs. the benefits of each school.  Based on what you describe, I may end up encouraging schools where he would be top 10%-ish.  We also may talk with the schools about endowments and unrestricted funds, but it's kind of hard to piece all that together ahead of time.  Much easier to just apply and see what offers are made.  But really by then it may be too late if one isn't smart about selecting the applications in the first place.  Sigh, lots of work!
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rpm22

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #47 on: August 07, 2017, 09:12:41 AM »
Caracarn - Based on the information you have provided, you can definitely afford a good 4-year public college in Ohio WITHOUT any parent plus loans.  If your daughter has saved $4500 in one year during high school and maintained a 3.9 GPA, she is probably savvy enough to get away with no Stafford loans as well. If she is set on going out of state, there may be some private options as previously mentioned.

I work in education and recently started a side-gig helping students and parents plan for college.  For a modest donation to my stache, I can help you sort through all of the options. You can probably find the right combination of price and fit for your daughter if you search hard enough but I can help you save a lot of time, energy, (and probably money).

If anyone is interested in some affordable college planning help, send me a PM.

caracarn

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #48 on: August 07, 2017, 10:20:24 AM »
Thanks for all the input.  A lot of excellent information.

I fully understand that there is no way that full amount with room and board would be covered.  I was not expecting that (but by all the responses I guess I indicated that more strongly that I had meant to).  I was hoping to get closer to $10-$15K which I can see a more clear path for between then working for part of it and using what we can save for the rest.  So no I'm not expecting room and board to be covered, so sorry for implying that.  That's why we are encouraging her to consider living at home for the first two years and doing CC so we can maximize all the savings. 

And to kevj1085 with the flippant comment about making $190K work keep in mind that we will have three in college at once next year and four at once a couple years after that, so that involves coming up with $75-$100K a year which is not trivial on that salary.  That's not $190K take home, so that would be about 80% of my take home pay.  As to the next flippant comment that might some that would not be useful that might be along the lines of "did college sneak up on you?  Why were you not saving before?"  I got divorced and all the savings plans and extra money (including for retirement) went away and regardless of how I got here, it's where I am.  Would I love to be in a different boat and just meet these expenses with ease, as your comment suggests?  Of course.

With regards to what she is willing to do for herself, she went ahead this weekend and scheduled herself to retake the ACT in September.  She has already found some online sites to help her prepare some more.  She's coming around to understanding that the CC options makes sense while it might not be what she wants to hear, and therefore is less hostile to it.  She's gotten 3's on her AP tests so not recalling if that will give her credit (I think it will), but hoping between the 4 she has done and the others she will do this year that she might be able to cut a year off and turn this ride into a three year program.  So with that we have her $20K in 529, the $25K we are saving up for her and the $20K she should be able to make working over four years plus a cushion that she had from the two high school years would cover the $60K for the three years. 

The biggest thing I learned from this thread is that what we are seeing is not uncommon, so at least I feel we are not missing some major thing, we just need to readjust that we might not be able to get it to $10-$15, but instead it will be $20-25K and figure out if we can handle that extra $40K per kid some way.  (First kid refuses to work and then spends every penny she makes so she has contributed $0 to her first year, was all funded by her 529 which emptied it out.  Plus she changed majors three times, including buying a $3K laptop she had to have for her graphics major that then has changed to dental hygienist).  Thanks for all the help and please keep commenting with anything else that comes to mind!   


mm1970

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #49 on: August 07, 2017, 10:48:12 AM »
There are so many options, and it doesn't pay to get too depressed this early.  Because you just don't know!

- There's always ROTC
- My niece lives in NY state.  Her grades were high enough that SUNY offered her free tuition for 4 years.  Another school that she got into was private.  The difference in cost per year was $25,000 (private school was more).  There was a chance for a soccer scholarship at the private school.  She made a very grown up $100,000 decision to take the SUNY school with free tuition. (Plans on a master's.)

- I live in CA and our local community college recently started offering 2 years free tuition to any local graduating HS student.  Neighbor kid lived at home for 2 years, and is going off to UC in the fall.

- National Merit scholarship kid (a friend's kid) - well, she could write her own ticket.  Got a $37k a year scholarship to here parents' alma mater.  Got into several UC schools.  Didn't get into Stanford.  Got a full scholarship to BU.  Ended up at Cal Tech.  Pretty sure her parents are paying full price.  But they can afford it.  I fully support wealthy parents paying full price.  The useful info here is that she had a few big scholarship options.

-  I liked the tip for looking at second-tier colleges who want to attract top students.

In any event, keep in mind if you have multiple kids, that once you have more in college at the same time, you are more likely to get aid.  (My kids are 6 yrs apart, so I lose there).  I believe (haven't don't the math) that total family contribution probably doesn't change.

- Finally, don't forget other ways to pinch pennies, that can help reduce overall college costs.  I know I'm a dinosaur, but I used ROTC, and I had jobs, and I used work study.  One work study job (3 semesters) was food service.  No, it didn't get me awesome experience, but I got a free meal each day I worked.  One summer job I painted dorms.  Again, not useful engineering experience but I got free room in an off campus apartment.  I also lived in an apartment 2 years (so I was able to reduce my meal plan) and in a sorority (cheapest rent of all those years) a year.  My college boyfriend lived in a house with other students, which was even cheaper.  Used books.  I placed out of 2 college classes due to tests.   My niece finished her degree in 3 years.