Author Topic: How to pay for kid's college?  (Read 14789 times)

Laura33

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #50 on: August 07, 2017, 10:59:29 AM »
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!

1.  Are you sure the EFC is still $20-25K/yr per kid with 3 in college?  I'm surprised it's that high with 3 kids.  But it should be lower for the later kids for any year in which you have 4 at a time.  But, yeah:  my sophomore year, my mom was on sabbatical and made $11K, and the college thought she could "afford" to pay $5K of that to my education, because they assumed my stepdad paid all of the other costs and so all her money was "free."  I had to appeal to be able to return for that fall.

2.  Very pleased to hear your DD is stepping up, putting in the work, and adjusting her expectations.  That level of maturity bodes well for her regardless of where she ends up going to school.

3.  Sounds like your real issue is the first DD.  What's the plan there?  Is she on her own/taking out loans now that she's blown through her college savings?  Or is she expecting you to foot the bill now that "her" money is gone?   
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mm1970

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #51 on: August 07, 2017, 11:02:10 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.
Yes, even back in the 80s my university reduced my aid from the school with each scholarship.  I had a few local home town scholarships.

I joined ROTC, and got a scholarship in year 2.  But there was a paperwork delay in getting the money.  So it took 3 months.  I worked the entire summer (2 jobs, 60 hours a week), made about $3k, and that went straight to the school.  And...I never got that money back.  It was a lean rest of the school year for eating.  Luckily I still had that food service job.

Junior year I got a private scholarship for $1000 from a Navy Captain who gave 5 scholarships a year to female Navy ROTC midshipmen.  That was a straight up check written to me, signed by her.  You know, maybe I should figure out how to do that.

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #52 on: August 07, 2017, 11:41:04 AM »
Rather than taking out loans for living expenses, can you take out a loan for real estate? Buy her a reasonable house nearby school, have her live there and rent rooms to friends. Even if you have to do the first year in the dorms, those schools usually have an allowance for living with family. They don't need to know that it's your "vacation home" and family isn't really there.

Cranky

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #53 on: August 07, 2017, 11:59:34 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!

If you would, at any time, like a tour of the YSU biology dept., just wave. I think you could actually manage YSU on $15k, including room and board.

YSU also has an Honors College program, with very generous scholarships.

I went back to work when my oldest went to college and for 8 years every penny of my salary paid for college.

Drifterrider

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #54 on: August 07, 2017, 12:07:31 PM »
The diploma has the name of the institution from which one graduates; not all the schools attended.

I did some work at community colleges because it was substantially less expensive.  Then I transferred to a university.

My diploma has the name of the university.

P.S. - prospective employers will be more impressed by someone working their way through school, and finding ways to get the education at a lower price, than they will be by someone having attended four years in residence.  Employers want problem solvers.

ysette9

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #55 on: August 07, 2017, 12:36:29 PM »
The comment about changing majors three times caught my attention. I think it is NORMAL to be on an exploration path in life at age 18-20 or so. It is completely normal to question and experiment and change opinions and seek out new experiences and ideas. Heck, that is what higher education is supposed to be about in part. It is just really hard to do that when you are paying a butt-load to take classes at a university away from home. That is one thing junior college is fantastic for: you can do all of that exploration with very low opportunity cost. Better do your exploring and switching now than three years in, or heaven forbid, two years into a career that turns out isn't a good fit.

My sister spent 4 years at junior college and switched majors three times while living at home and doing it all basically on scholarship. The end result is that she found a major she loved and got a sweet transfer agreement with one of our local UCs (University of California system).

Another comment on junior college: most of my classes were in the 15-25 people range. I transferred to Berkeley and had a handful of lower division classes to finish up and those were in the 100-150 people range. In lower division the quality of the education really can be better at a place with small class sizes, lots of personalized attention, and teachers who are there because they want to teach and not teaching just because it allows them to continue their research.
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historienne

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #56 on: August 07, 2017, 12:37:03 PM »
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!

1.  Are you sure the EFC is still $20-25K/yr per kid with 3 in college?  I'm surprised it's that high with 3 kids.  But it should be lower for the later kids for any year in which you have 4 at a time.  But, yeah:  my sophomore year, my mom was on sabbatical and made $11K, and the college thought she could "afford" to pay $5K of that to my education, because they assumed my stepdad paid all of the other costs and so all her money was "free."  I had to appeal to be able to return for that fall.

2.  Very pleased to hear your DD is stepping up, putting in the work, and adjusting her expectations.  That level of maturity bodes well for her regardless of where she ends up going to school.

3.  Sounds like your real issue is the first DD.  What's the plan there?  Is she on her own/taking out loans now that she's blown through her college savings?  Or is she expecting you to foot the bill now that "her" money is gone?   

Your oldest daughter sounds like exactly the kind of person who should be in community college.  I'd pay $20-25k to send a kid to the school they wanted to go to, IF AND ONLY IF I thought that the school was going to offer them something they couldn't get at a community college, and that the kid was going to take advantage of the experience.  You can absolutely tell your daughter that she gets a job to help pay or she goes to community college.  She can try the four-year experience again in a few years when she's more focused.

I say this as a professor at a private university, by the way.  My school is very expensive, and most of my students are smart, dedicated kids who take advantage of the opportunities that they are paying for.  But when they aren't, I regularly advise them to take time off, take some courses at their local CC, and come back when they feel ready.

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #57 on: August 07, 2017, 12:41:56 PM »
Thanks for all the input.  A lot of excellent information.

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!

You are incorrect, I think.  By the time you have 4 kids in college at the same time, the parental contribution does not spike to $80k per year, but is much less.   My guess is that it may end up being $40k per year MAXIMUM, across all kids, regardless of how many are in college at one time. 

This is based on how the calcuation works here, for the schools and loans we have looked at.  Some universities may use a different calculation.

affordablehousing

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #58 on: August 07, 2017, 12:53:34 PM »
This might be dated, but I remember from applying to college a long time ago that University of Washington in Saint Louis had a ton of full ride scholarships, might be worth checking out. Another mid-range school with full rides was Rice University in Texas. Definitely fill out the FAFSA, and note that the parent's amount to pay decreases with each kid in school.

Also, you might want your daughter to read Shopcraft as Soulcraft, another good book about the importance of hand learning despite the societal pressures of book learning.

Any way you dice it, good education is expensive in time or money!

historienne

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #59 on: August 07, 2017, 12:55:26 PM »

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.

I think this depends a bit on the size of the school.  At a larger (probably public) school, top 5-10% would be fine.  That kind of range will get you noticed by professors, and if the school is big enough, there will be a whole community of the smartest kids who are working in labs, taking advanced classes, etc.  At a tiny school (less than 1500 students), you might want to shoot for closer to 15-20%.  But 15% of 1500 students is still 225 kids, which is plenty to form a community.  And students will self-segregate to a certain extent.  Even at an unselective school, the physics majors will be smart.  If he loves football and wants to major in political science, though, it might matter more that the median student on campus is his intellectual peer. 

Basically, if he goes to a school where he is in the top 5-10%, I'd want to make sure that there are opportunities for the top performers at that school, and that there are enough of them that he'll have people to talk to.  But it could work out very well.  As a college prof, top 25% is a student that I enjoy having in class and will gladly give advice to or maybe even work with, if they come seek me out.  Top 5% is the student that I track down to see if they want to be my research assistant.  Top 5% is the student whose letter of recommendation for a fellowship or graduate school reads, "This is one of the most talented students I have had the chance to work with at Fancy Private University."  That stuff matters.

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #60 on: August 07, 2017, 01:20:32 PM »
Thanks and good points.  He's currently looking at smaller engineering schools, so ~1.5K - 5K students roughly.  GPA 3.4, PSAT 1300, in a well-regarded IB program.

Your last few sentences are why I think he is smart to want to be in the top fraction of his class.  I was an average kid at an Ivy League then a top student at a regional university, and the latter was definitely better than the former in pretty much every respect.  But there is a sweet spot to hit, obviously as the opportunities for graduates from Western Wherever Podunk Community College just aren't there.  Even knowing that, it's hard to avoid the temptation to encourage him to reach for the best school he can get into since that's how I was raised.
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caracarn

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #61 on: August 07, 2017, 01:47:24 PM »
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!

1.  Are you sure the EFC is still $20-25K/yr per kid with 3 in college?  I'm surprised it's that high with 3 kids.  But it should be lower for the later kids for any year in which you have 4 at a time.  But, yeah:  my sophomore year, my mom was on sabbatical and made $11K, and the college thought she could "afford" to pay $5K of that to my education, because they assumed my stepdad paid all of the other costs and so all her money was "free."  I had to appeal to be able to return for that fall.

Yes, each NPC asked how many are in college together and I answered 3.  FAFSA can't be filed until October 1, so can't do that just yet, so using the Net Price Calculator on each schools site that they are required to have.

2.  Very pleased to hear your DD is stepping up, putting in the work, and adjusting her expectations.  That level of maturity bodes well for her regardless of where she ends up going to school.

3.  Sounds like your real issue is the first DD.  What's the plan there?  Is she on her own/taking out loans now that she's blown through her college savings?  Or is she expecting you to foot the bill now that "her" money is gone?   

No idea what her plan is.  For reasons outside of school she decided to nearly sever all ties with my household (basically did not like house rules) and nearly had stopped speaking to my ex as well.  She's forging her own way in the world at this point and last she shared she was going to enroll in some dental hygiene program with a local community college but claims it has some pre-requisites that cannot be taken together and since there are three of them she needs to take one a semester to basically a year and a half before she can then take the program and then will have about 3 terms left so still taking four years.  She's had a job at Wendy's.  Door is open if she wants to discuss and I let her know to let me know what school she enrolled in if she wants to have use take the remaining savings and pay the bill but she has not contacted me since June.

shawndoggy

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #62 on: August 07, 2017, 03:05:26 PM »
I'm not sure why this should be surprising at all?  Basically any "away from home" college is going to have 12-18k in room and board.  I'm no financial aid expert, but in my experience, aid to cover those living expenses is almost always going to be a loan.  Many scholarships are specific that they won't cover room and board, only tuition expenses.

So at a "live away" college $15K from the cost of attendance calculator is pretty good/not unreasonable/unlikely to be beaten even if you go to a private school where your kid is the big fish in the small pond.

teen persuasion

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #63 on: August 07, 2017, 08:40:38 PM »
As far as the effect of multiple kids in college on EFC, larger family size increases the Income Protection Allowance, but larger numbers in college simultaneously decreases it  (roughly $4300 added per additional family member, but roughly $3000 subtracted per additional student).  After all calculations, the EFC (Expected Family Contribution) is divided by the number of students in college at that time.  So EFC for each student shrinks as more siblings are in college simultaneously, but family total is roughly the same (after accounting for subtractions to income protection allowance).

Google "EFC formulas 2017-18" for the pdf with all the formulas and charts.  Google "paper FAFSA" to find the inputs for certain lines, example line 94a thru f.  Using the actual formulas, you can see the effects of different types of income and assets on the EFC.  Income is from your prior-prior year's tax return, but asset amounts are as of the day you file the FAFSA, so timing could prove useful (pay all bills, school taxes, etc before filing to reduce savings/checking account balances).  YMMV

caracarn

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #64 on: August 08, 2017, 05:58:16 AM »
I'm not sure why this should be surprising at all?  Basically any "away from home" college is going to have 12-18k in room and board.  I'm no financial aid expert, but in my experience, aid to cover those living expenses is almost always going to be a loan.  Many scholarships are specific that they won't cover room and board, only tuition expenses.

So at a "live away" college $15K from the cost of attendance calculator is pretty good/not unreasonable/unlikely to be beaten even if you go to a private school where your kid is the big fish in the small pond.
It's surprising in the same way that learning about any new area in which one has zero experience raises surprises.  I'm pretty sure if I was to ask questions of nuclear physicists about the costs of building a nuclear reactor I'd probably also be surprised about some of the things I would need to cover and how expensive they would be and their reaction, being more well versed in the field than I would be "why is this surprising?"  You've had experience I've not had.  This is my first foray into financing college for someone who would be expected to get academic aid because of good performance.  I've had zero experience with this in the past.  I personally attended a private university but lived at home and never applied for any aid because I could cover the cost working at $3.25/hour back when I worked and was able to cover by $6,000 tuition for a high end private college back in the 80s because cost for education actually reflected what you got versus being hyper inflated because of all the financial aid (again, my layman's understanding of one of the key drivers of stupid high tuition costs).  So to hear about how "all the financial aid" has driven up costs, I expected that financial aid would be quite good, since the plethora of it has allowed colleges to increase tuition costs way ahead of the inflation rate.  So yes, I was surprised that my only experience (back when I left high school and knowing what my friends with high grades, not National Merit scholars, but AP and solid ACT scores in the lower 30s) were getting "full ride scholarships" which they told me included their room and board and tuition at various universities around the country.  Maybe they lied or stretched the truth.  After all as a 17-18 year old I was not asking them to show me their aid packages and running columns on my ledger paper (no computers back then) to see if it all added up.   I get that the landscape may have changed, and that's why I started this thread, because I wanted to see what others had come upon most recently.

Like any purchase, now that I have others echoing that what I am seeing is the "norm" in this area I know nothing about and am navigating for the first time, my emotions move from surprise to figuring out what this new found reality means for our family and the kids prospects of college given what we are able to do.  And there remains a bit of depression in that while we can certainly be more Mustachian in some of our expenses, the reality of six kids is an expensive prospect not just in college expenses but all other expenses and while some feel that a high salary makes that all vanish, in our circumstances that is not the case.  My wife and I keep looking for blood from the turnip, but unless we eliminate all discretionary expenses from our budget and just move to food, clothing and shelter as the only things we ever spend money on (no car for kids to get to work, remove communication devices and go back to only speaking directly to people in person, etc.) we are talking about a couple items that would give us over $1,000 per year and again spread over six kids, this turns into increasing their college savings by $200-$500/year. 

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #65 on: August 08, 2017, 06:15:49 AM »
I am surprised no one has mentioned this, and maybe I haven't done enough research on this... but my plan is to send my kid to Europe.  Especially if your kid is a nerd who will likely want to go on to grad school, you can get them European undergrad education for a very small fraction of the price in the US (plus the experience of living in a foreign country is priceless). And a lot of western european countries now offer full curricula in english.
Getting into grad school in the US on a TA or an RA with a European degree does not seem that difficult. And their terminal degree will then be from a US school, and the undergrad will not matter.
Of course, my kid is tiny and who knows how this will all work by the time he is of age (and if he will even want to go to college), but I just wanted to throw it out as an option.

caracarn

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #66 on: August 08, 2017, 06:30:35 AM »
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.   
Thanks.  This is the type of plan we're trying to work on, only difference being that we have to multiply everything you mention by 3 (soon 4) and that is where the hyperventilation sets in, because even at our income level it's hard.  We are diverting about $1,000 month to college savings and always looking for more (we started in earnest again by clearing a lot of things out last September and have and certainly will need to use some of the younger kids money for the older kids and such to make this work, and have just over $18,000 saved (versus a goal of just under $13,000 we had set for this first year).  I've determined the biggest disappointment with all this information for me has been the realization that our dreams of any FIRE possibility go out the window and I had been trying really hard to have that not happen.  I'm in my late 40s already and so only have a 20 year span to work with before I'd hit normal retirement age, so if I could even have cut 5 years off I would have considered that a victory, but that hope has blown away in the wind.  We felt good about the idea that over a ten year span we'd have saved at least $150K ($25K for each) and very possibly close to double that with some heavy penny pinching and seeing that that stretch goal might still not be enough (and that stretch goal takes a huge chunk out of any FIRE hopes) is what is really depressing for me.

caracarn

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #67 on: August 08, 2017, 06:36:05 AM »
I am surprised no one has mentioned this, and maybe I haven't done enough research on this... but my plan is to send my kid to Europe.  Especially if your kid is a nerd who will likely want to go on to grad school, you can get them European undergrad education for a very small fraction of the price in the US (plus the experience of living in a foreign country is priceless). And a lot of western european countries now offer full curricula in english.
Getting into grad school in the US on a TA or an RA with a European degree does not seem that difficult. And their terminal degree will then be from a US school, and the undergrad will not matter.
Of course, my kid is tiny and who knows how this will all work by the time he is of age (and if he will even want to go to college), but I just wanted to throw it out as an option.
Yes, someone else had mentioned.  At this point she is not targeting grad school, just trying to get a degree and a job.  She's specifically interested in Biochemistry as she's done a lot of work in these areas on how own from a study perspective and with Science Olympiad things and she wants to end up in likely an R&D lab for a corporation.  From her research it seems she can get entry level roles with just a Bachelors and then worry about later study if warranted.  Job prospects seem good and we have seen several school report that their graduating group for this field is 24 people or some crazy small number like that, so she is encouraged that this will be a field that should pan out well for her given the small amount of graduates but the growing number of jobs.  As with any crystal ball gazing, who knows if this is all correct, but that's the landscape.  I know several talked about Biology being a field that is very popular, but the specialty of BioChem seems much less popular.  If anyone has any added insight on this specifically that would help.  This also limits her school choices as not all of them have BioChem.

me1

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #68 on: August 08, 2017, 07:33:50 AM »
I don't know too much about biochem, although I have worked in labs with biochems before, but my impression is that with most bio sciences with an undergrad degree only, you will basically be stuck pipetting all day or doing other menial tasks. Again I could be completely wrong, since it's not my field, and maybe she is fine with this.
I would encourage you to find her biochemists and talk to about what their day to day work is like, what opportunities there are, etc. I wish I had done some of this before I decided what to study. I will definitely make sure my son does this because sometimes the end point is not quite what you expect....

shawndoggy

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #69 on: August 08, 2017, 08:22:22 AM »
sorry if that struck a nerve.  Not my intent.

But if you now know that the number you need to solve for, no matter where your daughter goes, is basically room and board, is it possible to cover year 1 only, with the understanding that she will need to cover subsequent years? 

In my experience, if she can get an R.A. gig, that should cover the room and board in subsequent years. 

There are very few full rides that cover all tuition at any school (my unscientific wild guess is somewhere in the neighborhood of 20-25 per university per freshman class), and very very few "full-full" rides that cover all housing in addition to tuition.  Your daughter's stats sound strong and it's pretty likely that she'll be competitive in college, but probably not quite up to full ride potential.  My daughter was 4.0 unweighted with a crap ton of IB and AP credits (another scam to discuss another day) and a 32 ACT, and her very best scholarship offer (which she took) was a full (tuition) ride for freshman year only at a State U in a nearby state which allows out-of-staters to get residency after a year.  So years 2-4 end up costing about the same as it would for her to attend local U assuming she lived in the dorms. 

My daughter has been good at stringing together some side hustles in years 2-4 too.  For instance, she participates in student government, which gets her a $1k/semester stipend and a 40% tuition discount off of the already "low" (low being a relative term here) in-state tuition.  If she were an R.A. too, I'd have to say that our annual outlay would've been $14K for year 1 (tuition covered, but room and board owed), and $4K / yr in later years (discounted tuition only, room and board covered).

Re biochem... my daughter is entering her senior year as a double major of bio and chem (because her school doesn't offer biochem as a major).  She has done enough lab work as an undergrad to figure out that working in a lab is hella boring and not something she wants to pursue.  She's going to grind it out for the diploma and then figure out where to go from there.  The real employment opportunities seem to be more skewed to biomedical engineering.  Which my D was till she figured out that she didn't like the engineering part.  lol.  ugh.

Cyanne

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #70 on: August 08, 2017, 08:30:30 AM »
While you are focused on your daughter and her funding of college, you may want to start thinking about the younger kids too. I don't know if this is an option in your state but my son did dual enrollment. He took college classes his junior and senior year of high school. He had earned two years of college credits when he graduated from high school. Since our state covers tuition and books for dual enrollment students, and he lived at home with us since he was in high school, it saved us two years or half the cost of a four year degree.

If your younger children can do something like this or take AP classes it would reduce your overall costs.

My son did try to get an RA for his senior year at the state university but was not selected. It can be a great cost saver but it is not guaranteed.

marion10

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #71 on: August 08, 2017, 09:14:03 AM »
I think for most people going to college  from the US is unrealistic. First you have to be accepted. Most 18 year olds are not ready to live in a foreign culture with no supervision. Many European schools do not have dorms, students live with their families or in their own apartments.

caracarn

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #72 on: August 08, 2017, 09:27:18 AM »
While you are focused on your daughter and her funding of college, you may want to start thinking about the younger kids too. I don't know if this is an option in your state but my son did dual enrollment. He took college classes his junior and senior year of high school. He had earned two years of college credits when he graduated from high school. Since our state covers tuition and books for dual enrollment students, and he lived at home with us since he was in high school, it saved us two years or half the cost of a four year degree.

If your younger children can do something like this or take AP classes it would reduce your overall costs.

My son did try to get an RA for his senior year at the state university but was not selected. It can be a great cost saver but it is not guaranteed.
Yes they are taking advantage of that as they can.  Our school offers classes at the local community college free of charge when they are in high school as long as they can get there.  The classes they take count for their high school requirement as well.

shawndoggy

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #73 on: August 08, 2017, 10:05:54 AM »
My daughter started college with 60 credits, of 128 required to graduate, as a result of getting an IB diploma. 

It's gotten her "out of" exactly zero credits required to graduate from State U honors college with majors in bio and chem.

My son is starting private college in the fall.  He took 12 AP tests (2 4s, 10 5s).  He's getting out of exactly *one* class in pursuit of engineering degree with honors.

IMHO, the only time AP/IB credits actually help are if you have a high achieving student who scores well on math/science/language AP/IB tests and intends to pursue a liberal arts/social science degree, where he/she can "test out of" math, science and language requirements.  For STEM majors, AP/IB is of little to no help, other than maybe starting with Calc 2 or Calc 3 right off the bat instead of Calc 1.

/grumpy parent rant.

AmberTheCat

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #74 on: August 08, 2017, 10:19:31 AM »
so not sure if i can post a link here or not.

this will not answer questions, but it certainly shows so many people are thinking and talking about college costs.

on the college confidential web site there's a thread that was started 2 days ago about high-priced colleges & why?? -- and its had 5K+ views and 100+ comments so far.  It's interesting reading!

http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/parents-forum/2009561-anyone-else-feel-like-its-time-to-tell-expensive-colleges-enough-cc-newbie-rant.html#latest

in case link doesnt show - its on www college confidential dot com, forums, parents forum and titled "anyone else feel like its time to tell expensive colleges enough ".

my thoughts for you: look for lower tiered schools that offer scholarship opps for your kids stats. there are  schools that offer automatic tuition . . .  with certain stats. there's a list that's easy to find.

** we were shocked too at college costs when our kids got there. just had no idea they had risen so much more than cost of living & salaries. we resemble many of your thoughts about it all!
not young, but newbie here!

Goldielocks

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #75 on: August 08, 2017, 11:13:54 AM »
Huh,  for AP, I found the similar thing.

DD took 3 AP classes, but only received the "4 or 5" score required for one of them.   That one will give her 6 credits towards graduating college and another will act as a pre-req (but not credits), allowing her to start in the second term level class, and take a different elective of her choosing.

But, for most of the programs, even when you do get the credits, they are for generic first level "1xx" elective (arts or science, etc), and don't count for mandatory classes in the program.   And many programs have very very few unspecified general elective first term credits needed, maybe two in total...   Note, she is taking a Bachelor of Fine Arts major for now... so only "undeclared" or general arts degrees would work to get better credits, I think.

In the end, she is able to take a different elective for one class, of her choosing, and can take only 4 instead of 5 classes first or second term...   Regardless of how many AP classes one achieved.

The good part of the AP class was how interesting it was to her, and prepared her much better for university classes in related fields.

little_brown_dog

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #76 on: August 08, 2017, 11:47:44 AM »
So if you want to see if you can accelerate her bachelors, I can give a bit more info on things to consider:

AP classes – yes, many schools will take them but often require a 4 or 5 to count. 3s may qualify depending on the school?

First year – don’t encourage high courseloads for the first semester. Many kids really need time to adjust and even for a strong student taking too many classes can be overwhelming ontop of all the new social and lifestyle changes. Encourage a reasonable courseload on the higher end of normal (if I recall correctly that’s probably around 18 credits or so) and then see how she does. If she rocks them and is all As or almost all As, then the next semester she can bump up. Maintaining a strong GPA is important because….

Sign off – some departments require sign off/authorization to take particularly heavy courseloads and some might not allow freshman to do this at all until they are clearly established as a particularly strong student. There may be GPA requirements for sign off. Be prepared for this.

Be upfront and clear about the consequences of switching majors – switching majors is likely to derail any efforts to accelerate a bachelors unless the two fields have substantial overlap in course requirements. She has to be prepared to stick it out for the entire time in her field…no changes of heart halfway through.

Take advantage of “experience based” credit offerings – Many fields offer independent study/research opportunities that qualify for credit under a departmental professor. Lots of times this involves the student working with a professor on their research projects, helping with running experiments, data entry, analysis, etc. I was able to tack on 8 credits worth of research that not only accelerated my degree, but also boosted my resume as a teen/early 20 something with no field experience. 

shawndoggy

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #77 on: August 08, 2017, 11:51:40 AM »
The good part of the AP class was how interesting it was to her, and prepared her much better for university classes in related fields.

Totally.  Gets the kids used to a higher standard of work for sure.  And also serves as a proxy for leveling the playing field against other kids from other places, since they all take the same AP test, so can show how a kid from BFE, Flyover State is just as smart as the private school city kids. 

Just don't drink too much of that "AP will save you money on college tuition" koolaid.

alexpkeaton

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #78 on: August 08, 2017, 11:54:25 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.

Keep in mind that it's not just about the degree, but who you're meeting. At the Ivies you're going to school with the children of very important/rich people. Their children might be dumb as rocks, but they'll be successful no matter what because of the position they were born into. There is a lot of value in these connections.

But, yes, it mostly applies if you want to work in certain fields. I went to one of the cheaper state schools to study computer science because, unless you're attending MIT, Stanford, or CMU--all of which I had no hope of getting into--you're going to get basically the same education in any computer science program. Might as well not overpay.

schmerna

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #79 on: August 08, 2017, 12:06:43 PM »
[
[/quote]
Yes, someone else had mentioned.  At this point she is not targeting grad school, just trying to get a degree and a job.  She's specifically interested in Biochemistry as she's done a lot of work in these areas on how own from a study perspective and with Science Olympiad things and she wants to end up in likely an R&D lab for a corporation.  From her research it seems she can get entry level roles with just a Bachelors and then worry about later study if warranted.  Job prospects seem good and we have seen several school report that their graduating group for this field is 24 people or some crazy small number like that, so she is encouraged that this will be a field that should pan out well for her given the small amount of graduates but the growing number of jobs.  As with any crystal ball gazing, who knows if this is all correct, but that's the landscape.  I know several talked about Biology being a field that is very popular, but the specialty of BioChem seems much less popular.  If anyone has any added insight on this specifically that would help.  This also limits her school choices as not all of them have BioChem.
[/quote]
She could consider a Chemistry Major and take a number of Biology courses too.  That will prepare her for an R&D lab or graduate school.  During her undergrad summers she should look for research fellowships that pay well and offer free housing.  For grad school, chemistry and biochemistry PhD students do not pay for graduate school.  They work as Research/Teaching Assistants to cover tuition and a receive a stipend and health insurance too.  If she is not offered such an assistantship, she is at the wrong school or needs to improve her credentials.

secondcor521

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #80 on: August 08, 2017, 12:11:12 PM »
The good part of the AP class was how interesting it was to her, and prepared her much better for university classes in related fields.

Totally.  Gets the kids used to a higher standard of work for sure.  And also serves as a proxy for leveling the playing field against other kids from other places, since they all take the same AP test, so can show how a kid from BFE, Flyover State is just as smart as the private school city kids. 

Just don't drink too much of that "AP will save you money on college tuition" koolaid.

I think it can vary from school to school as well.  My oldest son took 6 AP exams and was awarded 26 credit hours at a university where 120 credit hours were required for a 4 year degree.  So he almost started as a sophomore.
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shawndoggy

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #81 on: August 08, 2017, 12:14:57 PM »
I think it can vary from school to school as well.  My oldest son took 6 AP exams and was awarded 26 credit hours at a university where 120 credit hours were required for a 4 year degree.  So he almost started as a sophomore.

Sure.  And like I said my daughter was awarded 60 credits of 128 needed for graduation.  She started almost as a junior.

And all of those credits have gotten her out of ZERO classes for her major. 

The only kids that AP credits help are those who can test well in math and science AP classes, but do not intend to pursue STEM majors.  For STEM majors, AP credits are nearly useless to actually get kids out of classes.

tweezers

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #82 on: August 08, 2017, 12:37:23 PM »
I think someone mentioned school in Europe, but you may want to consider Canada too.  University education is much less than in the US (even with international student fees).  The current exchange rate would also reduce the cost.

Cranky

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #83 on: August 08, 2017, 12:44:14 PM »
I am surprised no one has mentioned this, and maybe I haven't done enough research on this... but my plan is to send my kid to Europe.  Especially if your kid is a nerd who will likely want to go on to grad school, you can get them European undergrad education for a very small fraction of the price in the US (plus the experience of living in a foreign country is priceless). And a lot of western european countries now offer full curricula in english.
Getting into grad school in the US on a TA or an RA with a European degree does not seem that difficult. And their terminal degree will then be from a US school, and the undergrad will not matter.
Of course, my kid is tiny and who knows how this will all work by the time he is of age (and if he will even want to go to college), but I just wanted to throw it out as an option.
Yes, someone else had mentioned.  At this point she is not targeting grad school, just trying to get a degree and a job.  She's specifically interested in Biochemistry as she's done a lot of work in these areas on how own from a study perspective and with Science Olympiad things and she wants to end up in likely an R&D lab for a corporation.  From her research it seems she can get entry level roles with just a Bachelors and then worry about later study if warranted.  Job prospects seem good and we have seen several school report that their graduating group for this field is 24 people or some crazy small number like that, so she is encouraged that this will be a field that should pan out well for her given the small amount of graduates but the growing number of jobs.  As with any crystal ball gazing, who knows if this is all correct, but that's the landscape.  I know several talked about Biology being a field that is very popular, but the specialty of BioChem seems much less popular.  If anyone has any added insight on this specifically that would help.  This also limits her school choices as not all of them have BioChem.

A BS in biology/biochemistry lets you be a lab tech, essentially, or a drug sales rep (which is a pretty good job if you like that kind be of thing.)

But the good news is that a PhD in those fields should cost you nothing. If you pay for a PhD in science, they don't really want you. That's why it's important to go to a school where you'll have a chance to work in someone's lab and have small enough classes to get to know profs well enough that you'll get great recommendations.

Cranky

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #84 on: August 08, 2017, 12:49:49 PM »
My daughter started college with 60 credits, of 128 required to graduate, as a result of getting an IB diploma. 

It's gotten her "out of" exactly zero credits required to graduate from State U honors college with majors in bio and chem.

My son is starting private college in the fall.  He took 12 AP tests (2 4s, 10 5s).  He's getting out of exactly *one* class in pursuit of engineering degree with honors.

IMHO, the only time AP/IB credits actually help are if you have a high achieving student who scores well on math/science/language AP/IB tests and intends to pursue a liberal arts/social science degree, where he/she can "test out of" math, science and language requirements.  For STEM majors, AP/IB is of little to no help, other than maybe starting with Calc 2 or Calc 3 right off the bat instead of Calc 1.

/grumpy parent rant.

My dd got a semesters worth of credit for her IB diploma, but she went to a school that only offered the IB, and she did get great scores on her exams. She also took a cheap class every summer that she was home from college, plus her semester in France was a for credit program. She could easily have graduated from her Not Cheap college in 3 years, but she was not a STEM major.

For STEM, the dual enrollment classes are probably a surer thing.

Lady SA

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #85 on: August 08, 2017, 01:09:43 PM »
With an interest in biochemistry and biology, has your daughter also considered biomedical engineering? I briefly tried that major and it was pretty fun, but then found out that blood scared me (lol) so I switched. I'm not sure on the job opportunities, but some I believe it is relatively easy to find a job even with a BS at medical device companies that will pay a crap ton, and the industry is very stable and lucrative. Along the lines of designing prosthetics, better heart pacemakers, even getting into growing organs from stem cells for transplant. However, please do a bit more research on exactly what job opportunities a BS has, I have not looked into it.

I'll give you my take, since I just graduated university 3 years ago. I had my heart set on an out-of-state public engineering college that had EXCELLENT placement rates (97% of graduates had a job in the field 6 mos after graduation) and after visiting the campus, it felt like "home". I literally stepped foot on campus and had this feeling of "home. this is where I belong". I had a 3.6 GPA, and the first time I took the ACT I got a 29. I was determined to get into the 30s so I retook it with a bit more study and got it. That resulted in a merit scholarship from the school of $10k per year contingent of staying in the dorms for the first 2 years. At that point, yearly tuition/room/board was $26k, and I qualified for the federal stafford loans to cover $7k. Then, my very generous family was able to cover some of my tuition, which left me with a ~$6k per year gap. I was also responsible for my own books and supplies.

For that $6k per year, I got a loan through my state that was cosigned by my parents on the condition that I have a job through college and start making even small payments toward it during school, and that as soon as I got a full time job, I would refinance it out of their names. Being a responsible kid, they trusted me.

I went to that school for my full 4 years, and I LOVED it. I made lifelong friends my first few months. It literally felt more like "home" than home did and I flourished, figuring out how to live on my own, and I wouldn't have gotten that at a CC. I at least knew the general direction I wanted to go in degree wise, but I ended up switching majors TWICE. First I was a biomed (mentioned above), and when that didn't work out, I tried mechanical engineering. At the end of my second year, I got into the multivariable calculus classes and my brain just couldn't cope with it, plus I was starting to have the slow, dawning realization that engineering wasn't for me. That summer, after having a bit of a panicky identity crisis, I talked with an advisor who suggested a peripheral degree, that was half technical and half humanities -- technical communication.

Each summer, I took classes at my local CC for transfer credit to my university to save money, and I did take a few AP classes and I think that got me out of a single class. (I wasn't very good at those tests lol)

After shuffling some of my older engineering classes around, turns out I had already meet 100% of the technical side of the degree, and now just had to concentrate on the humanities communication classes, and I would still graduate on time! And I managed to land an internship between my junior and software years with a major corporation (I was referred by a former intern who I had been friends with since freshman year), and was invited back as a full-time employee upon graduation making over $60k per year.

As a side note, I met my DH at school a month into our freshman year, so I may be biased :) But he came from a very low-income family and the school gave him the max financial aid they could, but he still graduated with about $110k of debt that he had to take on to cover the difference. Which is a lot, until you realize he graduated with a computer engineering degree and had about a million job offers even before graduation. He also got loans cosigned by his parents because he is extremely financially responsible and his dad pretty much had the same agreement: as soon as you get a job, these loans are refinanced in your name only.


Anyway, I just wanted to add the viewpoint of someone who did go to a 4 year college out of state, made some degree mistakes and had to switch multiple times, still graduated on time with student loan debt to the tune of $40k, but I really wouldn't want to have done it any other way. Those 4 years were one of the happiest of my life and I really cherish the bonds I made with my fellow students in those early years. I graduated and immediately had access to a very well paying job despite having a "humanities" degree, and our debt load is completely manageable. We started off with a combined debt of $150k (which seems quite scary), but within a year we were making $130k combined, now $180k combined. Our debt is down to $65k in 2.5 years, and we are still maxing every single tax advantaged account available to us. Obviously, do I wish we didn't have it? Of course. But are we drowning? No, far from it.


So, I guess my advice would be, her choice of degree but more importantly how in demand it is and what her expected salary could be after graduation and beyond is MUCH more important than how much or little debt she takes on. And how financially savvy she is. If she's even a bit savvy and picks a major that is in high demand with good potential salary and a school that has good connections to the industry, having a bit of debt is not so catastrophic and it's easy to refinance to just her name once she gets a full time job. Now, the flip side, if she goes into a saturated major with little job prospects and small expected salary, then any sort of debt would be extremely anxiety inducing and I can see why signing your name on the dotted line would be a but off-putting. The circumstances change a lot of things. I would focus on the debt/expected income ratio instead, and the college job placement rates.

And would you trust your daughter to handle any debt appropriately? If you requested she refinance to her name only, would she? Honestly?
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shawndoggy

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #86 on: August 08, 2017, 01:15:59 PM »
Great perspective, Lady SA!  As parents I think it's sometimes hard for us to fathom that there's going to be a tax paying productive member of society at the other end of that big tuition bill.  Great to read your post from the perspective of a student on whom that money was spent.

Cgbg

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #87 on: August 08, 2017, 02:18:33 PM »


The only kids that AP credits help are those who can test well in math and science AP classes, but do not intend to pursue STEM majors.  For STEM majors, AP credits are nearly useless to actually get kids out of classes.

Probably true at some schools but both of my kids received 8 credits for taking the AP Calc BC exam. One kid had taken Calc 2 at a local university but the AP credit counted as more (semester vs quarter system.) The AP credits go on their transcripts as transfer credits. In their case they also had college course credit from high school for the rest of their engineering math classes when they arrived (or will arrive) for their freshmen year. Two different out of state publics. It isn't like the colleges were going to award the credit and then make them take the classes too.

We were able to google up AP credit policies when the kids were applying to colleges. I'm sure it varies. Our target group included out of state publics and privates with engineering departments.

The harder thing for us to nail down was how each school would take college class credits (including a couple of dual enrollment credits, but most were just straight college classes) from out of state private colleges. The public universities in our state clearly detailed how many credits differential equations was worth from the local private university where they took classes during high school. But the out of state publics had no such list for accepting those credits straight across. Turns out each of those out of state publics has someone that evaluates each class on a case by case basis.



AlienRobotAnthropologist

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #88 on: August 08, 2017, 09:52:50 PM »
It's been awhile since I played the college admissions game, but based on my success, here's a few considerations for your daughter:

1) Standardized test scores aren't everything, but they matter a lot. Studying can have a worthwhile impact. Take timed practice tests and really try to understand everything you get wrong and why, not just what the answer was and what the pacing should feel like. The tests become somewhat repetitive after awhile. SATIIs are particularly good for this because they're more like normal tests and less like IQ tests or testing taking ability tests. Take the real tests as many times as you're allowed since unless it's changed colleges only consider the best scores even if you submit everything. Take every test possible that you might get a high score on. This, combined with being very thoughtful on the application itself is where you have the most room to improve your chances. Everything else comes from your long term work and goals that you've met.

2) Out-of-state public and mid-tier private schools had basically the same costs after financial aid, scholarships and all that in my experience. In-state public usually don't offer any better than free tuition + need-based aid, so the other expenses can still lead to a decent loan. I worked at the in-state public in a research lab during high school and got maybe a $5k/year bonus offered to me because of that. Elite privates, like ivies, were the cheapest option for me after aid since I'm from a blue collar family. If you make a lot of money the cost will be higher. If you can get grades, classes, test scores, and extracurriculars all to that level, this is the ideal option, but obviously easier said than done. It's also good to be able to show a concrete sense of direction of what you want to do and how the program aligns with you in very specific, concrete ways.

3) I'm saving $35k/year in an entry level job without even trying, so even if I needed say $50k in loans to get a degree, it wouldn't have been as big of a deal as it seemed. Just don't major in something stupid. Over 50% of majors are stupid and even more are a suboptimal choice for virtually everyone, no matter what you're interested in or what you want to do.

4) Avoid biomedical engineering if you're interested in biology. Do biology or chemistry and plan on a PhD or do mechanical engineering instead. EE and CS are also strong options, but the biology won't come until you apply it in industry. A team of a ME, EE, CS and a bio PhD is better than 4 biomedical engineers in every way, so they're actually at a disadvantage for everything. It's really a pointless major, similar to how mechatronics engineering lacks depth.

5) If your GPA is below 3.0, you better get it to at least a 3.0 by graduation. Take fewer classes per semester and longer to graduate if you have to but do not under any circumstances switch to a major that is easy but completely pointless. I'm not saying everybody should be in STEM, but rather everybody should avoid the many easy, yet stupid majors. If picking a major is hard, see what jobs graduates from each major get and what degrees are required for entry level jobs in whatever you're interested in.

6) Don't spend your own money for a master's unless it's an MBA.

7) Money in 529s directly reduces aid. Money in IRAs, 401k's, and HSAs does not affect aid. Owning a primary residence does not affect aid, but owning rental properties does. Do not officially save for college. To maximize aid, let your kids take out loans for the full cost and on graduation day pay whatever you'd like to pay. This assumes interest doesn't accrue until after graduation and you have ways to access your savings.

caracarn

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #89 on: August 09, 2017, 06:04:10 AM »

7) Money in 529s directly reduces aid. Money in IRAs, 401k's, and HSAs does not affect aid. Owning a primary residence does not affect aid, but owning rental properties does. Do not officially save for college. To maximize aid, let your kids take out loans for the full cost and on graduation day pay whatever you'd like to pay. This assumes interest doesn't accrue until after graduation and you have ways to access your savings.

I am unclear on what you mean here.  If I need to cash flow say $60K over the course of the college career, I'm not going to pull that out of thin air on graduation day.  I need to accumulate it somewhere, so I'm totally lost on how I do not save, yet have it available.  Can you elaborate?

shawndoggy

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #90 on: August 09, 2017, 07:19:08 AM »
I think he's trying to say don't use a 529.

If your daughter is an entering HS senior, I do agree with advice above to retake the ACT to see whether she can increase her score.  32+ really opens the scholarship opportunities.  But you'll still have the paying for housing conundrum.

me1

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #91 on: August 09, 2017, 07:26:37 AM »
I think for most people going to college  from the US is unrealistic. First you have to be accepted. Most 18 year olds are not ready to live in a foreign culture with no supervision. Many European schools do not have dorms, students live with their families or in their own apartments.
Why is it unrealistic? Of course you have to be accepted, but so do you at US universities. How is living in a foreign culture without supervision much different than living in a new city without supervision? Even if you have to pay for an apartment, the cost is still nowhere near what you would pay for a school in the US. You could probably rent them a small castle for the amount of money the US university education costs. :)
I am not trying to be argumentative. It's something I have been thinking of for a while. I have multiple degrees from US universities. Only the first was out of pocket, the other ones I got various assistantships, etc . But I am still not convinced that the amount of money my parents and I spent on my degrees was necessarily worth it. I was especially convinced it was not as a penniless grad student.
I will let my son pick his own path when the time comes, but I will strongly suggest going abroad. I had a few opportunities to live abroad with my first job in my early 20s, and they were very eye opening and liberating.
I also hope to be FIRE'd by the time my son is of age to go to college, so I could conceivably move to whatever country he ends up in.

historienne

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #92 on: August 09, 2017, 07:29:01 AM »

7) Money in 529s directly reduces aid. Money in IRAs, 401k's, and HSAs does not affect aid. Owning a primary residence does not affect aid, but owning rental properties does. Do not officially save for college. To maximize aid, let your kids take out loans for the full cost and on graduation day pay whatever you'd like to pay. This assumes interest doesn't accrue until after graduation and you have ways to access your savings.

I am unclear on what you mean here.  If I need to cash flow say $60K over the course of the college career, I'm not going to pull that out of thin air on graduation day.  I need to accumulate it somewhere, so I'm totally lost on how I do not save, yet have it available.  Can you elaborate?

I don't know if this is what he is getting at, but we are prioritizing paying off our mortgage over putting money in 529s or otherwise saving for college.  The idea is that we will pay off our mortgage by the time the first kid hits college, and that will free up a cash flow of about $18,000 per year for us.  Not enough to pay for college entirely, but enough to make a solid dent!  And it won't increase our EFC the way that 529s or other non-retirement savings would.

If you have cooperative parents, you could also have them start 529s in your kids' names.  Withdrawals from those will count as income for the kid, so don't make any withdrawals until you already have the financial aid package for the last year.  But they can be used to cover expenses for the last year.  Only do this if you have an excellent relationship with your parents, though - if you give them money to fund the 529s, they could theoretically withdraw it or switch beneficiaries at any time.

Goldielocks

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #93 on: August 09, 2017, 08:52:00 AM »
I think he's trying to say don't use a 529.

If your daughter is an entering HS senior, I do agree with advice above to retake the ACT to see whether she can increase her score.  32+ really opens the scholarship opportunities.  But you'll still have the paying for housing conundrum.

For folks from Canada reading this, the RESP monies, especially the non CESG part, generally count as the PARENTAL portion of the contribution.   (RESP is our "529" registered savings).

Goldielocks

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #94 on: August 09, 2017, 09:00:04 AM »
I think for most people going to college  from the US is unrealistic. First you have to be accepted. Most 18 year olds are not ready to live in a foreign culture with no supervision. Many European schools do not have dorms, students live with their families or in their own apartments.
Why is it unrealistic? Of course you have to be accepted, but so do you at US universities. How is living in a foreign culture without supervision much different than living in a new city without supervision?

Okay,  I will bite.   I lived in the Oslo University student housing one term.  (the type where you have a private room and share a kitchen among 6 people).  I am glad that I had at least a year of living in a similar situation at my home university before doing this.  Living on one's own, generates a slow build up of skills.  You figure out what to do when the "furnished" apartment does not include a bed and curtains, let alone sheets (Olso), you figure out what to do when the power goes out and your freezer slowly thaws, how to pay rent, grocery shop, cook and clean for yourself, deal with the polish students and their weird behaviours, etc.

Having most of the living independently skills down from living near home, made it easier to deal with "issues" as they came up in Olso, when I was on my own and everything seemed so different.  At my home university, I understood how to use the local transit,was familiar with the grocery stores, and I had a back up to call my parents, who could talk me through.

mm1970

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #95 on: August 09, 2017, 10:25:41 AM »


The only kids that AP credits help are those who can test well in math and science AP classes, but do not intend to pursue STEM majors.  For STEM majors, AP credits are nearly useless to actually get kids out of classes.

Probably true at some schools but both of my kids received 8 credits for taking the AP Calc BC exam. One kid had taken Calc 2 at a local university but the AP credit counted as more (semester vs quarter system.) The AP credits go on their transcripts as transfer credits. In their case they also had college course credit from high school for the rest of their engineering math classes when they arrived (or will arrive) for their freshmen year. Two different out of state publics. It isn't like the colleges were going to award the credit and then make them take the classes too.

We were able to google up AP credit policies when the kids were applying to colleges. I'm sure it varies. Our target group included out of state publics and privates with engineering departments.

The harder thing for us to nail down was how each school would take college class credits (including a couple of dual enrollment credits, but most were just straight college classes) from out of state private colleges. The public universities in our state clearly detailed how many credits differential equations was worth from the local private university where they took classes during high school. But the out of state publics had no such list for accepting those credits straight across. Turns out each of those out of state publics has someone that evaluates each class on a case by case basis.
Or me.  I was an engineering major, but got a 5 on the AP English exam.  That got me out of the 2 English class requirements for my degree.

(The AP English exam was the only one offered at my HS.  I only took it because they made me.  I couldn't afford to take it, so the school paid for it.)

Wexler

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #96 on: August 09, 2017, 10:53:12 AM »
I am surprised no one has mentioned this, and maybe I haven't done enough research on this... but my plan is to send my kid to Europe.  Especially if your kid is a nerd who will likely want to go on to grad school, you can get them European undergrad education for a very small fraction of the price in the US (plus the experience of living in a foreign country is priceless). And a lot of western european countries now offer full curricula in english.
Getting into grad school in the US on a TA or an RA with a European degree does not seem that difficult. And their terminal degree will then be from a US school, and the undergrad will not matter.
Of course, my kid is tiny and who knows how this will all work by the time he is of age (and if he will even want to go to college), but I just wanted to throw it out as an option.
Yes, someone else had mentioned.  At this point she is not targeting grad school, just trying to get a degree and a job.  She's specifically interested in Biochemistry as she's done a lot of work in these areas on how own from a study perspective and with Science Olympiad things and she wants to end up in likely an R&D lab for a corporation.  From her research it seems she can get entry level roles with just a Bachelors and then worry about later study if warranted.  Job prospects seem good and we have seen several school report that their graduating group for this field is 24 people or some crazy small number like that, so she is encouraged that this will be a field that should pan out well for her given the small amount of graduates but the growing number of jobs.  As with any crystal ball gazing, who knows if this is all correct, but that's the landscape.  I know several talked about Biology being a field that is very popular, but the specialty of BioChem seems much less popular.  If anyone has any added insight on this specifically that would help.  This also limits her school choices as not all of them have BioChem.

A BS in biology/biochemistry lets you be a lab tech, essentially, or a drug sales rep (which is a pretty good job if you like that kind be of thing.)

But the good news is that a PhD in those fields should cost you nothing. If you pay for a PhD in science, they don't really want you. That's why it's important to go to a school where you'll have a chance to work in someone's lab and have small enough classes to get to know profs well enough that you'll get great recommendations.

Proceed with caution. Biology is the least profitable STEM major and has earnings projections that are lower than the average non-STEM major.  There isn't a delineation for biochemistry, but it's probably a reasonable estimate just to take the average between biology and chemistry.  Also, check job listings to see if biochemistry is treated differently than biology or if jobs looking for a biology major will also consider biochemistry majors.  If this is true, then estimated earnings for biochemists will likely look pretty similar to biologists. Finally, just because a school's program is small doesn't mean that there is a mismatch between the number of jobs and graduates that will be in your daughter's favor. Universities aren't in the business of providing particularly honest information about job prospects.

http://www.sciencemag.org/careers/2014/06/whats-your-science-degree-worth

The least lucrative STEM field by far is biology, which has lifetime earnings significantly below those of the average non-STEM college graduate.


MayDay

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #97 on: August 09, 2017, 01:46:00 PM »
Yah, a biology degree is going to get you a boring as hell job as a lab tech making 13$ an hour and not much else.
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MrsPete

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #98 on: August 09, 2017, 04:51:16 PM »
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!
She's just about to begin her senior year?  The hard thing is that you're making choices about where to apply without knowing whether she'll get a scholarship here, there, or nowhere ... you have to make a stab in the dark.  Here's what I've been telling my seniors for years -- it works: 

You must choose three categories of school. 

1.  Choose your dream school (some people call it your reach school).  If everything were to work out perfectly for your daughter, where would she go?  If the scholarships were to go her way, etc., etc., etc.  While realizing that it probably won't happen, apply to that school. 
2.  Choose 2-3 realistic schools.  Schools in the mid-tier price range, schools where she can be successful, schools to which you can drive.  You know, the schools where she will probably end up.  Applying to more than three means you haven't done enough homework /enough whittling down.  Few students end up getting big-deal scholarships from individual schools, so don't worry too much about that. 
3.  Choose your safety net.  Sounds like you've already decided this is community college, but the safety net should be something she can do entirely on her own at least to start her college education. 

Keeping that in mind, know that the big-deal scholarships tend to "open" in September-October and have due dates around November 1st.  Smaller scholarships pop up October-March and have due dates March-April. 

Also, don't be afraid to be up front with your daughter about what you can afford to contribute.  We told ours that we could pay for 4 years (not 5, not 4 + summers) at a state school.  That would include tuition, fees, dorm, meal plan.  If they wanted "more" -- out of state, apartment, etc. -- they had to figure out how to pay whatever was "above and beyond".  Letting them know what you can provide is important; they have enough "floating numbers" in their lives right now -- let them know what they can count on from you.

First, yeah, welcome to reality.  Unless you have some incredible "hook," you're not getting a full scholarship. 
Realistically, few, few, few students get full rides these days.  I think it's been 2-3 years since ANYONE at the high school where I teach earned a full ride. Why?  Schools and scholarship committees have decided that it's better to give modest awards to 4-5 students rather than a full ride to a single student.  This is just the way things are today. 

Don't forget, though, that students can earn multiple scholarships.  And students can pay for school in other ways:  National Guard, work for the university to earn school benefits -- an RA in the dorms typically gets free room and board, a secretary can take a few classes each semester for free.  Look into schools that provide books as a part of tuition; that's saved a ton of money for us.  Hint:  A freshman Chemistry book is $360; we paid nothing. 

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.
In theory, yes; however, in my experience, most students take more than four years to graduate when using this 2 years + 2 years process ... typically because they don't plan thoroughly enough, and managing the requirements of two schools instead of just one does require planning. 

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.
Said another way:  A lackluster private college is more likely to give your kid a scholarship than is a state school.  This is true, but it usually just brings the cost of the private school down to roughly the same cost as the state school ... but then, you're at a lackluster private college.  I'd rather my kids went to the state school; most of the private colleges in my state are lackluster. 

However, the good news is that for many (most) careers, this isn't much of a factor. 
A 3.9 GPA /29 score is good but hardly stellar; while it's outstanding in her high school class, it's probably about dead-average for the kids who will attend state universities and will actually stay more than a year.  The real questions are, Has she taken lots of honors /AP classes?  Does she have good extra-curriculars and particularly leadership experience?  Does she have some community service to talk about on applications?  Has she dipped her toes into whatever she intends to study in college? 

A 3.9 GPA /29 score + some of these things is likely to end up with a modest scholarship. A 3.9 /29 that's all-grades will probably get nothing. 

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.
This may vary from region to region, but this is blatantly false in my area.  Schools themselves give out relatively few scholarships.  The state gives quite a few, and individual groups give quite a few.  OP, you should ask your guidance counselors; even if you don't particularly like them, they can enlighten you on what's typical for your area.

You're right to point out that some schools are one-time only deals.  Don't jump for a scholarship that'll allow her to attend her dream school for one year; if you do, you'll just be right back at this point next year ... but it'll be worse because she'll already be entrenched in the dream school. 

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.
My experience (not only with my own kids, but with high school seniors for longer than I care to admit) has been the same.  Our guidance office posts scholarships every month, and that's a great way to find good options.  Three important points:

- Never pay anyone to apply for a scholarship.  Those people who "promise" to find you something will just point out FAFSA and loans. 
- Create an organizational system and SAVE everything.  Often you can tweak an essay and submit it to another scholarship with little effort. 
- I have been a part of scholarship committees many times, and the very first thing we do is go through to see which applications are complete -- a shocking number are missing transcripts, essays, whatever -- and we discard without reading all the students who haven't bothered to turn in everything.  The next big thing is, It must be NEAT.  Imagine you're reading 20-25 essays ... you're only human; you're going to be drawn towards the ones that are easiest to read.

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.
It's not only high school counselors -- friends and parents are worse.  MANY of our best students feel that community college isn't "enough", and NOT to go straight to a 4-year university is to admit that you are "lesser".  However, at least half of my students who head out to 4-year schools simply aren't ready. 

I'm remembering a father who called me on the phone once and asked me point-blank if I thought his son was ready for a university.  I took a deep breath before I answered (because I always tell the truth), and I said, "Sir, your son has plenty of academic potential, but I don't see strong motivation on his part.  I see that he has ___ missing assignments, and I see that he has missed school ___ times this semester.  I see that he participates in class, when it suits him, but he sometimes shirks the more difficult work.  I think he could do well in college academically, but I wonder if he is emotionally ready.  If he were my child, I'd consider community college -- for a year, for two years -- and then make the jump to a more independent university program."  And I held my breath and waited to be told off.  Didn't happen.  The dad said that I'd just verified his feelings exactly, and he was sure that was the best path.  Unfortunately, I don't know the end of the story. 

I think for most people going to college  from the US is unrealistic. First you have to be accepted. Most 18 year olds are not ready to live in a foreign culture with no supervision. Many European schools do not have dorms, students live with their families or in their own apartments.
Plus you're not going to qualify for anything from FAFSA (not that most thrifty people will be offered anything except loans), and you can't ignore the very real cost of transportation. 

Just don't drink too much of that "AP will save you money on college tuition" koolaid.
Dual enrollment between high school and community college is a MUCH better deal than AP classes.  Example:  My oldest is an excellent English student and took English AP her senior year ... scored a 3 on the AP test, needed a 4 to get credit in college; had she taken it a different day, or had she encountered a different essay question, I am sure she would've passed.  100% of her chance of earning credit was based upon her performance on one test.  In contrast, my youngest, a slightly weaker English student took English 101 at the community college while she was still in high school.  She was in complete control of whether she did her reading, turned in her papers, etc.  She earned an A and a college credit. 

However, many of our upper-academic students "look down upon" the community college option, seeing it as "lesser" than the AP class.  And it is, but, still, my point is quite valid ... if you're looking for credit instead of social status.

Oh, and the cost of dual-enrollment:  Zero tuition.  Parents have to pay for books "up front", but they're reimbursed after the student passes the class. 

nd all of those credits have gotten her out of ZERO classes for her major. 
Well, um, yeah.  All those AP classes /community college classes help students get ahead in general degree requirements.  You'll never take college major classes in high school. 

Why is it unrealistic? Of course you have to be accepted, but so do you at US universities. How is living in a foreign culture without supervision much different than living in a new city without supervision?
Living in a new country would mean your parents literally cannot drive up for the weekend, so it requires a higher level of independence.  It also means learning a new financial currency, navigating a new culture, perhaps dealing with a language other than English ... all while learning to be a college student, manage your own life as an adult -- meaning buying groceries, paying your electrical bill, and remembering to wash your clothes.  I'm in the camp of, Few students are ready for this

Okay, I've said quite enough, so I'll leave you with one comment:  Paying for college has turned out to be easier than expected for us.  Both our kids have earned multiple scholarships (not full rides), and we have been able to cash-flow the remainder.  We have dipped into savings only once ... and we're almost done:  our youngest has two years left.  It's do-able.

caracarn

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Re: How to pay for kid's college?
« Reply #99 on: August 10, 2017, 10:24:25 AM »
MrsPete, excellent responses so thank you.  I was thinking, "is this MMMs wife responding" but the I quickly recalled she's running an Etsy business not a high school teacher.... :)

On the one item of mine you responded on, we are certainly doing that.  I had mentioned a book I stumbled across as a freebie in our public libraries book giveaway called "Right College Right Price" that segments the schools by type (read costs in most cases) in the index so you can look up an college in the country under one of the categories (Flagship public, non-flagship public, highly selective private, mid-tier private, etc.).  We've used this to group schools together and do find that picking a couple in each and running the numbers gets almost identical net price values. 

The other nearly all apply to us (other than foreign attendance, where I totally agree with you.  Having worked in foreign countries the challenges of navigating all the variables even as a fully functional adult can be challenging.  Having that be the first independent experience for someone requires a VERY, VERY special kid).  I thank you for the added insight on lackluster private versus state and the other pieces.  Obviously, as you indicated by your anecdote about telling the father about how you felt about his son's readiness, every parent most likely has at least a bit of rose colored glasses regarding our children.  I believe I'd react as your caller did to candid feedback about any of my kids, but I'm sure I have some beliefs about my kids that exaggerate their capability.  I've been told out school district is one of the best in Ohio and the fact that our academic teams tend to place well in state competitions would seem to validate that, so I am assuming that the pool of talent she is measured against in her class would be pretty high.  This may be one area I am mistaken in, as I have no idea how to determine that.  I'm hoping that since my daughter was part of a Science Olympiad team that made it to Nationals twice in her tenure that this would differentiate for scholarships.  She has had a job at McDonald's since she turned 16, works 30-40 hours a week and was promoted to Crew Trainer within 6 weeks of starting, which would seem to show some leadership qualities.  She won an essay contest for Daughters of the American Revolution in middle school, so she's got some unique items that I would think are a little rare.  She does all that while maintaining involvement in Science Olympiad and theater which both require year round commitment of a heavy nature.  In all this I may certainly be succumbing to special snowflake syndrome where I feel she is doing a lot, but maybe it is just "meh" compared to everyone else. 

I do feel she is feeling that going to community college is in some ways "lesser".  I do also worry that she has no idea what a real job in her desired major will be.  If she can really only do very basic lab work with a BS, she may be disappointed and not prepared that she will need more schooling, but I feel she can do that later while working in the field, rather than trying to jump into graduate work and expense right away.  I feel that students who come out that way are not as capable in the workforce because all they have is a lot of book knowledge, but are lacking the work experience and more importantly the interpersonal and political skills you get from working with adults versus playing around at work in university.  Most of our interns say their most valuable experience is having their eyes opened to how an actual workplace functions versus what they are told in school.

We do also have a challenge with being up front on what we can contribute because they is all dependent on everything going according to plan.  We are saving this up over the next 10 years, it is not sitting there ready to give them.  I worry about saying we will give her $25K and then we lose our jobs 4 years in and the whole plan derails but in the meantime she's on the hook with the expectation that we are going to provide $25K which has not become $10K.  Therefore it seems to need to be a "floating number".  It seem like not being up front to pretend that this could not happen given job instability in this country for the last two decades.  I just had to switch jobs less than two years ago, and it was very possible that I would have needed to take a 40-50% pay cut to not have to leave the area.  I was blessed that I found a job that did not make us have to deal with that reality, but if that were to happen again in the next 10 years our plan would have to change.  Not sure how I can approach it any other way, but open for suggestions.