Author Topic: First kid going to college. Need help!  (Read 28452 times)

b4u2

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First kid going to college. Need help!
« on: April 21, 2014, 11:51:18 AM »
Well our first kid is going to college this fall. Basically my wife and I just started on this FI path and are still paying our debts. We have no money for college. She only got student loan for $5500. Then apparently the parents (US) can borrow 13k for the other part. The cost of the college is about 16k a year including housing, food, books, and misc fees.

My wife and I have 5 kids total. We cannot afford to pay for each kid to go to school. I need help with understanding what to do. She has applied for grants and scholarships and waiting to hear back on those. She isn't the greatest student so not holding my breath.

What are some resources I can read up on?

luigi49

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2014, 12:42:49 PM »
  I would say do the loan or 2 years community college then regular college.  If tuition is your main concern then community college is your better route.  Your daughter is doing the right thing with applying for scholarship and grants.   The 16k is a bargain in my opinion. 
« Last Edit: April 21, 2014, 12:48:31 PM by luigi49 »

MrsPete

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2014, 12:47:52 PM »
You're not going to like this, but it's the truth:

In her 18 years, you've saved nothing; this means you're not "set" to pay back a loan. 
In the time since she's been old enough to work, she's saved nothing.
Even if financial aid comes through, you're going to be short. 
Fall is only months away; you can't wait this late and expect good things to happen.

A 16K/year college is just not in the cards.
You need a less expensive option, even if it's not her first choice.

Community college is probably your best choice, especially since you say she "isn't the greatest student".  Staying close to home would probably be the best way to insure her success.  College is a big step up academically from high school. 

Sorry, but it's the truth.  No false hope here.

« Last Edit: April 21, 2014, 12:50:21 PM by MrsPete »

Cpa Cat

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2014, 12:52:06 PM »
The best possible thing you can do is start looking into community colleges that they can attend while living at home. They should be able to get half their degree (the first two years) out of the way on the cheap that way.

Also, they need to work while in school. No question.

The hard truth is that you can't afford to send your daughter to the college where she was accepted. It's probably not too late for her to apply to community college right now. But if it is, she can hold off a semester and work. Tell all your kids right now that they need to save for college. Most of them will probably need to take a year or two off between high school and college (or go part time community college) to work and build a little savings before going to school.

The earlier you break this news to your kids the better. My parents told me there'd be no money for college when I entered high school. I saved every penny and worked from the time it was legal to get some savings. I also took school more seriously because I was hoping for scholarships.

People go to college on a shoestring budget all the time. But they usually live at home (or in slums with several roommates). They use old editions of textbooks. They get jobs. They do community college.

And I think you might want to start creating a family plan to save money in your household. You need every penny. With 5 kids heading to college, debt and potential retirement savings, you don't have room for luxuries. Get your kids on board with that.

MayDay

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2014, 01:10:38 PM »
The relatives of mine who saved nothing had their kids go to a state school, pick the absolute cheapest housing options, the kids worked full time or more during summers and pt during school, and the parents cash-flowed whatever the kid couldn't cover with loans and jobs. It might work out to around 500-800$ a month to cash flow, which is pretty doable by picking up a second job.

MayDay

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2014, 01:13:42 PM »
Oh, and my parents did what Cpa cat said. My sister and I then worked our butts off and got full rides. Ends up my parents would have helped some but they wanted to motivate us and didn't want us to count on their help.

Break it to them all now if you aren't going to cover any costs.  Surprises are bad.

neophyte

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2014, 01:30:06 PM »
Does she know what she wants to study and does she have clear goals, or is she just going to college because it is the 'next step'?

Can she defer her enrollment for a year?  I think many schools will allow you to do this.  Then she could live at home and work full time for a year to build up some savings.  Even better if she can get a job related to what she thinks she wants to study  This could also give her a better perspective on why she wants to go to college and what she gets out of it.  Especially if she doesn't know what she wants to do, I don't think it makes sense to go to college to without a purpose and try to figure it out once you get there.  I know too many people who changed majors multiple times and took 5, 6, sometimes 7 years to graduate. 


*Edit: I can't spell
« Last Edit: April 21, 2014, 03:17:00 PM by neophyte »

Rebecca Stapler

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2014, 01:36:54 PM »
Does she know what she wants to study and does she have clear goals, or is she just going to college because it is the 'next step'?

Can she differ her enrollment for a year?  I think many schools will allow you to do this.  Then she could live at home and work full time for a year to build up some savings.  Even better if she can get a job related to what she thinks she wants to study  This could also give her a better perspective on why she wants to go to college and what she gets out of it.  Especially if she doesn't know what she wants to do, I don't think it makes sense to go to college to without a purpose and try to figure it out once you get there.  I know too many people who changed majors multiple times and took 5, 6, sometimes 7 years to graduate.

I wholeheartedly agree with this! If she can defer for a year, work in an area related to her field of interest while living at home, and save her earnings, she will not only be better prepared to pay for college but she'll also be better prepared in choosing the most appropriate field of study and be motivated to do a great job. A bunch of my fellow students in law school were only there because it was the "next step," then found themselves completely uninterested in practicing and still shouldering $125k worth of debt.

Otherwise, starting out at community college, getting stellar grades, and transferring to a 4-year school after earning an Associate's is a great idea. But I don't think it's for everyone. Around here, community college can be a bit of a 13th-grade, and students can slack off if it's just a continuation of high school with no focus on their goal at the end.

teen persuasion

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2014, 01:50:03 PM »
I've got 5 kids, too. Kids 2 and 3 are currently in college, 1 is graduated and in the Navy (she did it the wrong way round - she should have joined the Navy before college and let them pay for it.) 

If you didn't get any aid but loans, you must have a good income and/or assets, since family size affects aid. I am concerned about how much aid DS5 will be eligible for when all the other kids are out of the nest.

$16k for tuition and R&B is really cheap - R&B alone run  ~$12k now, up from $10k in 2008 when DD1 began college.  If your child can live at home, you could swing tuition, fees, books on the student loans.

b4u2

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2014, 01:56:41 PM »
I remarried into extra kids. It was a sudden jump from 2 kids to 5 kids. We have told them all we cannot cover costs. What we do for one we would have to do for 5 and that just isn't feasible. I am still paying for my loans (58K). No one helped me get into or pay for college and I came from a large family. I never expected my parents to pay for my college nor do I feel like they should have. She was supposed to be saving while she worked part time. We got her last bank account and she has just thrown money away on crap. She started out doing so well and now she only has what we originally put in a cd (500?). We have encouraged her to work more hours this summer but she wants to "enjoy" the last summer of freedom before starting college. I will probably look into trying to get her private loans in her name if possible. May Discover student loans?

She is interested in graphic design. Not sure what the field has in store for her. She has done a lot of plays and vocal. She has done set work and play production. She writes a lot. She has also done some computer graphics for different classes.

The college is in state and is a very good college here in Iowa. The distance would be too far to drive daily.

She also feels that if she goes to a community college and not a 4 year college that she won't stick with it. I really hope she does but if not why would I want to be stuck with that debt? I am still digging myself out from my own past mistakes.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2014, 01:58:25 PM by b4u2 »

Cpa Cat

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2014, 02:10:48 PM »
She was supposed to be saving while she worked part time. We got her last bank account and she has just thrown money away on crap. ... We have encouraged her to work more hours this summer but she wants to "enjoy" the last summer of freedom before starting college. I will probably look into trying to get her private loans in her name if possible. May Discover student loans?
...
The college is in state and is a very good college here in Iowa. The distance would be too far to drive daily.

She also feels that if she goes to a community college and not a 4 year college that she won't stick with it. I really hope she does but if not why would I want to be stuck with that debt? I am still digging myself out from my own past mistakes.

This kid isn't ready to be dropped off in on-campus housing. That Summer of "freedom" is going to turn into a first semester of partying.

And if she's telling you she won't stick with community college, then what makes you think she can stick with regular college? There's a clear message that she's more interested in being with her friends than she is in higher education.

FYI - It is HIGHLY unlikely that you will get private student loans without co-signing. And the moment you co-sign, that's your debt. She will probably default it right into your lap.

She has clearly failed to clue into the financial reality of her situation. A bunch of student loans will do her no favors. She stands a high likelihood of ending up with a bunch of debt and no degree.

She just isn't ready. She has demonstrated zero responsibility while under your roof - there's not going to be some epiphany once she's in student housing with a bunch of other 18 year olds and no oversight.

galliver

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #11 on: April 21, 2014, 03:17:58 PM »
My ex from freshman year of college dropped out after that year, moved home, went to a local school, graduated, and is doing fine. I don't know how he was before college, but I bet his parents had to tell him to turn off his video game and do his homework and go to bed on time. Because those are all things he had trouble with on his own. I don't know how much the experiment of going 5+ hours away cost him and his parents.

A childhood friend went literally across the country and failed/partied out. Went back home, did CC, got her degree, got a job, fiance, house, dog, and horse, and is doing fine. But again, that experiment cost her parents (and maybe her).

It really doesn't sound like your daughter is going to college with a focus on her education. You don't have the money to be one of the above stories. As much as you love your kid and want to give her what she wants, it's really not good for either of you. You can't make her college decision(s) for her, but you can decide what to do with your money and let her decide from there.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #12 on: April 21, 2014, 03:45:29 PM »
If she can't pay for college, she can't go. If she wants to do 100% loans, she can, but that's $64K and interest at the end. Unless she goes the IBR route, that's $600 a month at the end. Make sure she is truly, truly aware of that.

samburger

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #13 on: April 21, 2014, 04:14:56 PM »
Community college. Can we stop talking about CC like it's the loser cousin to universities, by the way? Mustachians ought to know better than anyone that paying more doesn't equal higher quality.

I did my first two years at a cc to save money. Did my second two years at in-state rates, graduated at the tippy top of my class.

The smart kids go to schools they can afford, end of story.

mozar

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #14 on: April 21, 2014, 05:36:03 PM »
If she really wants to take on the debt (because you should not) she should consider a degree in accounting. you can get mediocre grades and still get a job when you graduate. a mediocre job but at least a job. 64k for a degree in graphic design? holy moly that is bad roi.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2014, 05:39:38 PM by mozar »

Gimesalot

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #15 on: April 21, 2014, 06:10:50 PM »
Given that her interest is in graphic design, I don't think she should go to a 4-year university.  Graphic design is not a job that requires a degree of any sort.

I believe her best route is to go to a community college where she learns software that is common in the field (photoshop and the like).  From there she could get a job without a degree.  If she decides to go back, she will have a foundation of skills and an income to pay for her schooling.

As a first step, she should look for jobs that interest her, and note the required skills.  That way, she would have an idea of what skills to develop.

As a relevant side note, I have a ton of friends that studied art, design, creative writing, music, painting, and a ton of other fine arts.  For the most part these degrees are not worth the money.  Most of these people are working in the service industry or piecing together "gigs" while trying to pay off their huge debt, praying that it will disappear after years of income-based repayment.

TomTX

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #16 on: April 21, 2014, 07:14:00 PM »
Community college, trade school, military - or get a job.

b4u2

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #17 on: April 21, 2014, 07:19:04 PM »
I had her mom read this and she thought it was good enough to have her read it. She didn't have an open mind. Barley even got past my opening post. Tried to get her to read the whole thing and she just walked out. All I want her to do is understand what this is going to cost and how she intends to pay for it. She thinks loans will solve her problems. I have already tried to explain that they are only offering $5500 to her in loans. She has $600 saved and there might be one scholarship she can get for $2600 per year. She needs $16,000 per year for this college. I no longer know what to do.

Argyle

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #18 on: April 21, 2014, 07:38:04 PM »
She's just demonstrating her unreadiness further, isn't she?

You don't have to do anything -- you have all the leverage.  You cannot afford to pay for her $16K expenses.  You are under no obligation to take out any loans.  I would only do so if she showed that she is very serious and mature about taking on college and debt.  And clearly she is not at that point.  So: what's her solution?  If she refuses to consider reality, what is her idea of what happens next?  Apart from "you pay for her college and she doesn't bother about anything," which is not possible, even if it were advisable.

So she'll have to stay home next year and work, or else move out and work. 

It's unfortunate that you didn't have this discussion over a period of time starting many years ago (if I understand correctly), so that she's grown up thinking that the money would appear and there would be no problem.  That's what's happened for most kids' childhoods, so it's no wonder they think it will keep on happening.  But sadly that's not a possibilty.  So she'll learn as things unfold.

socaso

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #19 on: April 21, 2014, 07:58:03 PM »
My brother did his first two years at CC then got his BS at a state university. My sister got her Associate's at CC. My husband went to trade school. All of the aforementioned people have good-paying jobs and no loan to repay. I took out one small loan for $3k and it took me 10 years to pay the damn thing back. She MUST understand what she is getting herself into with the loans. Is there anyone in your family who has struggled to pay back student loans and could offer her some real world perspective? I have friends moving into their 40's who feel they cannot afford to buy homes or have families because they are still paying back their student loans.

MayDay

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #20 on: April 21, 2014, 08:32:32 PM »
Gosh, this sounds like a challenging parenting time for you.  She isn't showing the maturity that I am sure you hoped she would by this stage of her life at home (ie, almost done at home!). Anyway, just wanted to give you some parenting sympathy.  Kids can be such pills sometimes!

happyfeet

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #21 on: April 21, 2014, 08:48:49 PM »
Ah parenting a teenager!  I feel for you.  College is expensive.  Both of my kids have many friends who went to college and didn't finish, took 5/6 years, flunked out, or majored in something that did not result in a good paying job.  College should not be a four year expensive party/finding yourself.  It just costs too much money.

I suggest Community college and then two years of the state school.  In our state here all the CC credits transfer to the state school.  You get to have that fancy degree for a lot less money.

If she can't get the full loan - I do not recommend taking out the balance in your name.  You have all the power.  She has enough for CC to get started.  She may be even to work part time and graphic design and go to CC.

Best of luck.  Never easy.


Weedy Acres

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #22 on: April 21, 2014, 09:01:22 PM »

iris lily

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #23 on: April 21, 2014, 09:24:35 PM »
hey dad, I beg you, don't throw money at this problem. Let your daughter figure it out.  I think the complicating factor is that she's a "step" daughter but she's just the first--you'll have the same problem with all of the others, you guys can't fund college for her in a conventional free ride way for her. There are tons of middle class kids in the same boat. It's ok, you are not a bad parent! Please don't beat yourself up over this.

Start defining now what you will pay for and what you will not pay for such as: you'll provide a roof and food while she lives at home taking at least 12 credit hours. If she falls below 12 credit hours, she'll need to be working at least 30 hours a week. You will not pay for a car. You will pay for a bus pass. You will not pay for etc etc.

Really--the boundaries need to be defined and communicated. It's in her best interest for her to have skin in the game and for you to define what that means for her.

ch12

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #24 on: April 21, 2014, 09:35:59 PM »
http://www.madfientist.com/how-to-retire-early-with-13-kids/

Community college for two years is the answer when you have a lot of kids. She should be responsible for paying for part of her own tuition. Starting life debt-free is a REALLY big deal, and I'd encourage you to encourage her to try to do so, in whatever way she can.

Start defining now what you will pay for and what you will not pay for such as: you'll provide a roof and food while she lives at home taking at least 12 credit hours. If she falls below 12 credit hours, she'll need to be working at least 30 hours a week. You will not pay for a car. You will pay for a bus pass. You will not pay for etc etc.

Really--the boundaries need to be defined and communicated. It's in her best interest for her to have skin in the game and for you to define what that means for her.

And when I say "whatever way," it's nowhere as extreme as iris lily. I graduated college with 211 credit hours, and there were times when I had 20+ credit hours and 2 jobs. I was by no means a slacker in college. However, parental support is really important during college. That's why it's a good idea for her to live at home while she earns an associate's degree, and then she will be able to figure out what she wants to do. You are taking this burden on yourself to make decisions, while they are actually her decisions to make. Give her the baseline of community college, then see what your family can come up with together, knowing that there are 5 kids.

mm1970

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #25 on: April 21, 2014, 09:53:06 PM »
I'm not sure there is anything you CAN do.

You've told her you cannot pay.

She is unlikely to be loaned the rest of the money for a year of college.

That means she can't go.  I mean, she'll figure it out eventually.  She may squeak out a year before she realizes it.

Anyway, time to grow up.

galliver

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #26 on: April 21, 2014, 09:58:00 PM »
You are right.

But...let's realize that having one's hopes and dreams dashed is hard and painful, and that as the responsible/adult party you should have started this conversation much sooner. It's also possible that you've encouraged/built up her belief that she was going to college, and CC probably feels like a cheap copout (not saying it is, but that is the predominant culture/view).

It's ok to sympathize with her pain but of course you can't change the facts. Give her some time to get herself together. Some harsh reality just hit her in the face after all.

Emg03063

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #27 on: April 21, 2014, 10:01:58 PM »
Out of curiosity, are there ex-spouses in the picture that will be contributing to the educations of these kids? (Not that it changes any of the advice received from my perspective).

wizlem

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #28 on: April 21, 2014, 10:04:43 PM »
I agree with most of the posters above. Have her live at home and go to Kirkwood for 1/2 the tuition of the 3 state schools in Iowa. If she thinks she'll lose interest because it's community college, I don't think going to "real" college is going to help the situation. If she can get her shit together for 2 years there then she can transfer to UNI.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2014, 10:16:20 PM by wizlem »

roboto

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #29 on: April 22, 2014, 03:06:04 AM »
I remarried into extra kids. It was a sudden jump from 2 kids to 5 kids. We have told them all we cannot cover costs. What we do for one we would have to do for 5 and that just isn't feasible. I am still paying for my loans (58K). No one helped me get into or pay for college and I came from a large family. I never expected my parents to pay for my college nor do I feel like they should have. She was supposed to be saving while she worked part time. We got her last bank account and she has just thrown money away on crap. She started out doing so well and now she only has what we originally put in a cd (500?). We have encouraged her to work more hours this summer but she wants to "enjoy" the last summer of freedom before starting college. I will probably look into trying to get her private loans in her name if possible. May Discover student loans?

She is interested in graphic design. Not sure what the field has in store for her. She has done a lot of plays and vocal. She has done set work and play production. She writes a lot. She has also done some computer graphics for different classes.

The college is in state and is a very good college here in Iowa. The distance would be too far to drive daily.

She also feels that if she goes to a community college and not a 4 year college that she won't stick with it. I really hope she does but if not why would I want to be stuck with that debt? I am still digging myself out from my own past mistakes.

Echoing the thoughts that she isn't ready.. and somehow it feels like she's headed to college because it's a life progression path kinda thing.

I've not been to college, when I was done with high school my mother told me straight up that she can't afford to send me to college, and my only other choice is to go to a polytechnic - which is somewhat like vocational school/community college. I took it, graduated and am working, saving up to try to go to college with minimal debt.

Perhaps you might have to be assertive, drive the point that there is zero chance you are paying for her college education and that if she really want to go to a 'real' college, she'll have to find her own way to afford it.

It's probably best that she knows what she's in for if you decide to introduce her the private loan option. It would be an unfair burden on her to graduate and reality strikes where she finds herself like many millennials out there with a low wage job and a hefty debt. I think at the age of 18 she should be growing up to start to take responsibility of her choices and actions.

If she's not certain she's going to stick with the tertiary education she'll receive, community college or otherwise, maybe she should consider taking something like a gap year. Working is definitely the best way to grow and learn to prioritize things.
« Last Edit: April 22, 2014, 03:10:20 AM by roboto »

NewStachian

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #30 on: April 22, 2014, 05:24:45 AM »
My advice comes with a huge grain of salt. My parents forked out $20k a year in private high school and every one of my report cards came back with "isn't performing to his abilities". It must have driven my parents insane in retrospect. I was looking at expensive schools, but something in the back of my head told me I should go somewhere that forced me to grow up. I ended up going to a free military school and it was the best decision I ever made for myself. Among the many things I learned there were work ethic and appreciation.

So, the Mustachian that I am today, a few years from FIRE'ing at 35 wants to say everything that's already been said here. She's not ready. She needs to learn what it's really like out there. Those are all true, of course. She's a coaster like I was through high school. It's hard to look yourself in the mirror and tell yourself that as a 17-18 year old. In all fairness to kids that age, there's a lot going on in their minds, as there was in mine. These thoughts may seem trivial to us who have forgotten them, or have been exposed to more, but we've had a lot more time to figure these things out. It's unrealistic to think we can just impose this knowledge on kids and expect them to take it (although we hope they do, must like our parents hoped to do with us)

Having said all that, my advice is to let her know that no matter what, you will be there to help her through this process. You will answer all her questions to the best of your ability and support her, but you're not paying for it. This might be a rude wake up call that she appreciates down the road. Or, it might work out terribly and she will resent you. But, now's the time to set the ground rules. The simple fact is you don't even have your own finances in order (not judging why, but it is what it is), so taking on hers is a massive mistake.

teen persuasion

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #31 on: April 22, 2014, 08:13:31 AM »
http://ifap.ed.gov/efcformulaguide/attachments/091913EFCFormulaGuide1415.pdf

Here is a link to the EFC formulas.  You can work thru all the calculations to see how the FAFSA comes up with your Expected Family Contribution.  Seeing how the formulas use your income/asset/family size/age numbers will give you an idea of how you might be able to adjust finances to maximize your EFC.

You are late in looking at financial aid considerations.  The FAFSA you just filled out (for the upcoming school year) is based on last year's income/tax return (2013), so any financial aid planning or changes would have needed to be made before 2013.

As far as scholarships, have your child visit the HS guidance office to apply for ALL available local scholarships.  There are usually a variety of Rotary, FFA, 4H, Vet's Post, etc. small scholarships, but small amounts can add up.  These groups often leave the decision making to the guidance counselors, so you have to make sure they know you want to be considered for these awards.  Being active in sports, music, clubs, outside activities and volunteering are all important to meet the requirements for the awards; each group has a different set of criteria, but I have seen that "extras" are a common theme.

Has your child applied to any other colleges?  I've only seen one mentioned.  Different colleges will give different aid packages.  My DD1's first choice college gapped her $16k, and she appealed, but they just mentioned parent loans (no way!), so she moved on to her second choice, and was very happy there.  We were even happier, since it was only 50 miles from home, vs. another state for 1st choice.  DS2 was having trouble deciding between 2 of the colleges he was accepted at - the more prestigious college offered more aid, but he was really leaning towards another one that offered slightly less aid.  He contacted them and asked if they could match the other college's package.  They asked to see the package, and then increased his aid to beat it.  Win - win.

One of the biggest obstacles that I have seen in college is what major to choose; without any real work experience (other than typical teen jobs), most teens have no idea of what they want to do, or what a given job really entails.  I believe that many would benefit from working for a few years before college, to gain exposure to the work world and see if a field is really what they want to do.  Yes, they will be starting at the very bottom, and probably can't actually get the "cool" job they are shooting for without the degree, but they will hopefully see what their aspirational job holders actually have to do, how hard they work, what skills they need.  Better to learn that a job/field is not for you before you spend years and $$ on the degree, or if you really are confirmed that a field is right for you, you might receive company aid to go to school for the training you require.

bogart

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #32 on: April 22, 2014, 09:52:12 AM »
I remarried into extra kids. It was a sudden jump from 2 kids to 5 kids. We have told them all we cannot cover costs. What we do for one we would have to do for 5 and that just isn't feasible. I am still paying for my loans (58K). No one helped me get into or pay for college and I came from a large family. I never expected my parents to pay for my college nor do I feel like they should have. She was supposed to be saving while she worked part time. We got her last bank account and she has just thrown money away on crap. She started out doing so well and now she only has what we originally put in a cd (500?). We have encouraged her to work more hours this summer but she wants to "enjoy" the last summer of freedom before starting college. I will probably look into trying to get her private loans in her name if possible. May Discover student loans?

...

She also feels that if she goes to a community college and not a 4 year college that she won't stick with it. I really hope she does but if not why would I want to be stuck with that debt? I am still digging myself out from my own past mistakes.

I also married into kids, and we paid for them to go to college.  So I'm empathetic to the basic problem and inclined to pay for kids' education.  Including stepkids!

But.  The kid you are describing isn't ready to go to college.  My advice to you is to do nothing.  Tell her you cannot afford to contribute to her education or, if you prefer to do so, offer to contribute some modest amount ($2,000?) per year and tell her she'll need to make up the difference.  Then let her figure out how to do so.  Don't co-sign anything.

My best guess is she'll take a year to figure out how she can put herself through school, and then go, and that you'll be doing both her and yourself a favor.  Good luck to you, it's a hard position to be in.









randymarsh

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #33 on: April 22, 2014, 10:06:23 AM »
She also feels that if she goes to a community college and not a 4 year college that she won't stick with it. I really hope she does but if not why would I want to be stuck with that debt? I am still digging myself out from my own past mistakes.

Well with that attitude, she's right!

I went right into a 4 year school but over the past year or 2 I've been wondering if that was the best choice. I could have saved so much money going to a CC. Instead I owe 70K. I don't recommend that for anyone, much less someone who may be going into graphic design/writing.

birdman2003

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #34 on: April 22, 2014, 10:18:45 AM »
Hello fellow Iowan.

If she wants to party, Kirkwood or Iowa are excellent.  If she likes a good old fashioned VEISHEA riot, consider ISU.  I'm not sure why you would go to Cedar Falls.

But seriously, she (and you if you're going to co-sign loans) will need to determine what her occupation will be and then pick the school or combination of schools that best prepare her skills in order to get that first job.  College costs too much to guess and experiment on what you'll like or not like. 

You mentioned she was thinking about graphic design.  Companies that hire a freelancing graphic designer don't care where the designer acquired their skills or how much they paid to acquire those skills.  They want to see your portfolio + websites you've built to demonstrate your skills.

If she wants to get a STEM degree, university is a good choice.  I did engineering at ISU for 4 years and had classmates who did the 2 years at DMACC plus 2 years at ISU (except it was more like 2 years at DMACC plus 3-4 years at ISU because although you can knock out 2 years of gen eds at the community college, once you get to the university you need more than 2 years to finish your program because they have pre-req courses that are usually only offered 1x per year in the spring or fall semester).

But step 1 is to honestly evaluate what she wants to do with her life.  If it's not working in a STEM field, don't start down the road to university.

Cpa Cat

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #35 on: April 22, 2014, 10:25:17 AM »
What we spend our money on indicates what we value. You have explained elsewhere that you want to drive a certain vehicle, and borrow money for vacation toys, leaving you broke.  So, you have no money to help your step-daughter get a hand up in life. Dude, that is messed up. I know I would have resented my parents if they spent a lot of money on that stuff and wouldn't have helped me in any way for university. Her education should come above your expensive to maintain suburban and your vacation toys. Do I think you should take a loan out to pay for her school? No! However, you need to reprioritize your life so that her education ranks above these other things.

She should work now, this summer, and during college as many of us did, so that she can pay what she can. But, since you could come up with some funds to assist her if you wanted to, you really should be a bit more helpful.

Mom of 5 is right. As an adult, I disagree with the principle that you owe your kids an education. But I remember being an 18 year old girl. I remember how going to university was "OMG RIGHT NOW SO IMPORTANT!!!11!!" I can see myself throwing a tantrum when confronted with a forum full of strangers telling me I can't have what I want, the way I want it, RIGHT THIS MINUTE.

And clearly, selling your toys and then giving her all the money so that she can use it to go the university that all her friends are going to (instead of the more sensible CC that she's poo-poo'd) is a short term solution to a long term problem - since there are 4 more kids waiting in line behind her. And I guarantee if you sell all that stuff and then have nothing left for THOSE kids, then they will be the ones who resent you.

That's why I want to reiterate that you need to bring the whole family together to discuss the plan on how each and every one of them gets through college. Everyone makes cuts now so that the family can contribute X per month. Everyone does without cable. Everyone downgrades the cellphones. Everyone deals with having fewer vehicles/toys/extracurriculars.

That said - this isn't going to help your oldest much. $200 per month doesn't afford her the university that she wants. It will be hard for her, but ultimately, when she can't pay her tuition bill, she will accept that she needs to make another plan.

Rebecca Stapler

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #36 on: April 22, 2014, 12:28:44 PM »
If you can't pay, you can't pay and she can't go. For now.

How about striking a deal with her that she defer matriculation for a year, and work. While she works, you will match whatever she saves for college -- dollar for dollar -- into a 529 account (it can ONLY be used for education) or some sort of escrow account that she can't touch. That way, she will not only get the benefit of her hard work, she will see that you are ready and willing to help her; and she stands a good chance of actually getting enough saved for 2 years worth of college, then figuring out the rest of the two years (with work study, being a Resident Advisor, applying for scholarships, etc.)

For that matter, you can strike the same deal with your other children now, so they don't get caught flat-footed their senior year.

I don't know about your spending habits, so I'm going to leave that one alone until you post your side of the story.

Nords

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #37 on: April 22, 2014, 12:44:47 PM »
She was supposed to be saving while she worked part time. We got her last bank account and she has just thrown money away on crap. She started out doing so well and now she only has what we originally put in a cd (500?). We have encouraged her to work more hours this summer but she wants to "enjoy" the last summer of freedom before starting college.

She is interested in graphic design. Not sure what the field has in store for her. She has done a lot of plays and vocal. She has done set work and play production. She writes a lot. She has also done some computer graphics for different classes.

She also feels that if she goes to a community college and not a 4 year college that she won't stick with it.
This lack of college readiness is how many high-school graduates (including me) joined the military...

MKinVA

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #38 on: April 22, 2014, 01:16:20 PM »
Do not get on the hook to pay for her college. As you say, you have four more after her. She can go and rack up the student loans and regret it for the rest of her life like the rest of us do. Or if she is really mature enough to do well in college, she can go community college, then transfer, then have a much lighter load of loans to pay. Once she graduates, she can look into a public job or nonprofit which would allow the forgiveness of her loans after 10 years of employment (and paying on the loans during that time). Someone also posted about a program where you sign up to donate time, physical labor, etc., and the charity pays on your loans.

also, if you want to help her later on and can afford to, student loans are the cheapest money around when compared to taking out a second mortgage to pay for college or credit cards or personal loans,.......

b4u2

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #39 on: April 22, 2014, 03:58:38 PM »
There have been some good advice posted here and a few shots at me.

I have two degrees which I got both on my own. My parents could not afford to pay for my college and my many brothers and sisters. I grew up learning you pay for what you want. My only regret is that I did not find a site such as this to help teach me to get myself out of debt. Since I didn't, and I just found this site this year, it makes it impossible to try and play catch up. So we are dealing with the present and paying off the past. Which for my wife and I right now means incurring no new debt. I want to teach my kids to be responsible and learn from my mistakes, not repeat them.

mozar

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #40 on: April 22, 2014, 05:15:30 PM »
The best thing you can do for your kid right now is to say no. If you help her you will be starting on the path of enabling her poor decisions, possibly for the rest of her life.

My parents always said that they would help me with college. I went to the school that offered me the least aid and took out 100k in private loans. When all my loans came due I asked my parents for help and they said no. They didn't have the money and they never did have any money. I think they just said that because they thought it would make them sound middle class.
After a couple of years of working retail I had an oh crap moment about my $2000 a month debt payments and got a 35k masters degree in accounting. 7 years later I have paid off all my student loans and have bought a small house. Do I resent my parents? Hell yeah! But I turned my life around and realized that making a life on my own feels great.

It's hard to watch your kid fail but the sooner she makes mistakes the longer she has in life to recover. Some people have to make their own mistakes in life. She will learn from your mistakes when she is ready.

RMD

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #41 on: April 22, 2014, 05:35:46 PM »
I wasn't ready for college.  Mom had a rule.  She paid until you screwed up.  I was done my first semester.  I wandered through institutions of higher learning; Universities, Colleges, Technical Colleges, a Business School, Community College...I am an expert at transferring. ;). I loved being a student...I just wasn't very good at it.  Mind you, I did all of this without a single student loan and incurred zero debt.  I finally got serious when I had enough credit hours for a Masters but none came from one institution...I earned my Bachelors degree at age 39.  (And, now at age 43, I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up.)

All this to say...if she wants it, she will figure it out. She will waste money doing it...let it be her own.

fljason

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #42 on: April 22, 2014, 05:37:54 PM »
The military will pay for schooling. and you may get a chance to see the world. if the military is an option for the other children see if they have a JROTC at their high schools.  Many students come to Virginia Tech as cadets and have all 4 years of their college education paid for and than you get have a guaranteed job for at least 5 years out of school.

randomstring

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #43 on: April 22, 2014, 06:57:01 PM »
Well our first kid is going to college this fall. Basically my wife and I just started on this FI path and are still paying our debts. We have no money for college. She only got student loan for $5500. Then apparently the parents (US) can borrow 13k for the other part. The cost of the college is about 16k a year including housing, food, books, and misc fees.

My wife and I have 5 kids total. We cannot afford to pay for each kid to go to school. I need help with understanding what to do. She has applied for grants and scholarships and waiting to hear back on those. She isn't the greatest student so not holding my breath.

What are some resources I can read up on?

I don't have an actionable advice about talking to your kid, but I do have some money/school advice. Make sure she fills out all financial aid applications (FAFSA, etc.) and submits them on time. Even if she does not qualify for school's own financial aid, or federal grants, she may qualify for work study. I went to college a while back, and work study was very useful in allowing me to work on campus. There are lots of campus jobs that will go to work study students only (because essentially the employer only pays 50% or so). So all these nice research jobs, student computer support jobs, library jobs, etc. they are mostly open to work study students.

Why should she want on-campus job? Because she can schedule shifts around her classes. Because she does not have to commute. Because employers are used to having student employees and will be flexible. Work study allows a student to work 20 hours a week.

If it is too late to fill out financial aid forms, she can defer for a year, fill out financial aid paperwork and meanwhile find some full time work (with, possibly, a night class in community college).

Good luck. If she is really set on going away to college, you should support her. By helping her with paperwork, helping her set up budget spreadsheet, networking to help her get a local job. I don't think you need to get into more debt over this though.

bogart

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #44 on: April 22, 2014, 08:57:20 PM »

But seriously, she (and you if you're going to co-sign loans) will need to determine what her occupation will be and then pick the school or combination of schools that best prepare her skills in order to get that first job.  College costs too much to guess and experiment on what you'll like or not like. 


For the record (having already participated in this discussion), I disagree nearly fully with this statement; I'm a huge fan of liberal-arts education and of kids going to school not knowing what they want to study.  I say that not to start an argument here -- I really don't think it's relevant to this discussion where one stand on this point.  My point, rather, is that even as someone who feels the way I do (and the opposite of how birdman2003 feels), I still stand by my earlier position that this kid -- the OP's kid -- isn't ready to go to college.  It's one thing to go to school "just" for a good liberal arts education (something I am a fan of).  It's another thing to go to school without a sense of the value or cost of an education, and with no plans to be serious about obtaining one -- and that's what appears to me to be true of the OP's kid, right now.

HairyUpperLip

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #45 on: April 23, 2014, 06:52:22 AM »
She is interested in graphic design. Not sure what the field has in store for her. She has done a lot of plays and vocal. She has done set work and play production. She writes a lot. She has also done some computer graphics for different classes.

The college is in state and is a very good college here in Iowa. The distance would be too far to drive daily.


Send her to Dubuque. See if she can get a job at IBM. Apartments can be had for as little as $4-500 a month including utilities.

She's wasting her time, life, and money if she pursues graphic design. But good luck either way.

Already lots of other good advice in this thread.

MrsPete

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #46 on: April 23, 2014, 08:25:53 AM »
I remarried into extra kids. It was a sudden jump from 2 kids to 5 kids. We have told them all we cannot cover costs. What we do for one we would have to do for 5 and that just isn't feasible.
You're wise to consider this.  I know more than a few people who've started out BIG with their first child, only to realize that they hadn't considered that they'd begun something unsustainable. 

She was supposed to be saving while she worked part time. We got her last bank account and she has just thrown money away on crap. She started out doing so well and now she only has what we originally put in a cd (500?). We have encouraged her to work more hours this summer but she wants to "enjoy" the last summer of freedom before starting college.
You knew this would be all the money she had for college, and you trusted her to monitor it on her own?  Kids need guidance in this area.  This, coupled with your comment that she isn't particularly a stellar student, is a hint that she lacks the self-discipline for college at this point.  Regardless, she was never going to earn 16K working part time, and the answer to "We aren't prepared" isn't "Let's just borrow and worry about it later".

Yeah, my daughter, who has been so responsible in so many ways, pulled that "it's my last summer" thing too -- and we allowed her to reap the consequences of that choice.  She had everything she needed in college, but we did not provide spending money, so often during her freshman year she had to say, "I'd like to ___, but I can't."  She learned. 
I will probably look into trying to get her private loans in her name if possible. May Discover student loans?.
You just said you're still paying off your student loans, and you're willing to let her go down that same road?  The right choice is a less expensive option. 
She also feels that if she goes to a community college and not a 4 year college that she won't stick with it.
I'd ask her to expand upon this thought.  Why does she think that attending a smaller, more affordable college would mean she wouldn't "stick with it"?  She'd have ahead of her the carrot of being able to move to the university later, she'd have the motivation of knowing that good grades would be necessary to make the move.  What I'm hearing is a teenaged whine, "But it's not what I want."  And I don't disagree:  I never wanted to go to community college either, but I worked like a dog for what I did want -- during the school year, during the summer, all the time. 
« Last Edit: April 23, 2014, 08:28:00 AM by MrsPete »

MrsPete

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #47 on: April 23, 2014, 08:35:33 AM »
This kid isn't ready to be dropped off in on-campus housing. That Summer of "freedom" is going to turn into a first semester of partying.

And if she's telling you she won't stick with community college, then what makes you think she can stick with regular college? There's a clear message that she's more interested in being with her friends than she is in higher education.

FYI - It is HIGHLY unlikely that you will get private student loans without co-signing. And the moment you co-sign, that's your debt. She will probably default it right into your lap.
Well, my daughter really wanted that "last summer before college", and her lowest grade that first semester was an A- in Chem lab.  She has always been very focused and very serious about her grades. 

I agree with your other points though, and I'll add this thought for the OP: I strongly suggest you do not co-sign for loans.  You can't stop her from getting the small loans she can get on her own, and the fact that they won't cover a 16K bill should be a hint to her.  With so many red flags, nothing good will come of this situation, and you shouldn't encourage her towards folly. 

If you do go ahead and co-sign for loans, absolutely get life insurance on her.  The worst-worst-worst thing that could happen is that somehow she dies . . . and you're still stuck for her loans.  Because she's young and healthy and is very unlikely to die, a policy that'll cover the loans is very inexpensive.  With four more children coming along, you can't afford not to do this. 

MrsPete

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #48 on: April 23, 2014, 08:36:56 AM »
The smart kids go to schools they can afford, end of story.
Absolutely!  And just because someone else can afford more doesn't mean you should borrow. 

MrsPete

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Re: First kid going to college. Need help!
« Reply #49 on: April 23, 2014, 08:45:28 AM »
You don't have to do anything -- you have all the leverage. 
No, no, the OP doesn't have all the leverage.  If he does nothing, it's true that the girl cannot borrow the 16K on her own, and she will be caught between the choices of "go to community college" (which I suspect the 5500 + 600 will cover) or "do nothing". 

BUT his wife isn't willing to listen to reason (and math), and she can co-sign for those loans without him.  The wife is the one who really has to get on board with this.  She is the loose cannon in this scenario.  I'd say the big point for her is, Can you do this for the other four?  Can you co-sign and potentially pay off 64K (or more) for four more kids? 

My guess:  Most parents have a vision for their kids' futures.  High school graduation, college, good job, marriage, a home, good job, children.  Even if the daughter in question hasn't been a stellar student and hasn't shown strong motivation for college, Mom is still dreaming the dream, and the next step is college!  She's willing to overlook the red flags because she's so sure that the daughter is also on board with the dream.  As a high school teacher, I see this scenario year after year after year.  If you have to force the pieces to come together, if something's just not right . . . it's going to fall apart, and it's going to happen after only a semester or two.  The worst possibility is to have to continue paying for the loans after the dream is gone.

Instead, choose something attainable. 
Choose something within the girl's grasp.
Choose a school where she'll be successful and won't be selling her future away.