Author Topic: Paying for college without loans  (Read 8097 times)

T-Rex

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Paying for college without loans
« on: March 22, 2014, 03:58:06 AM »
I am 30 years old and will be a veteran with the GI bill. My goal is to get a doctorate. I am moving to a different state. I am thinking of paying my own way through community college, and then applying to state college when I have a AA degree and I am eligible for instate tuition.

Is there any better place to keep money for your own college education besides a savings account?

Any advice on strategy? What would you do?

T-Rex

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Re: Paying for college without loans
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2014, 05:02:56 AM »
Should I save up cash for immediate goals or is it still better to save a lot for retirement?

Gimesalot

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Re: Paying for college without loans
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2014, 09:28:58 AM »
Two things to consider:

1.  You need to make sure that you will get residency during the time you are in community college.  I know most states will not let you count time that you are studying for residency.  I was required to work full-time for one year without attending classes, to qualify for in-state tuition.

2.  If you don't have enough to cover tuition, try to get scholarships.  Try to win a few small $50 to $100 dollar scholarships.  The move on to higher amount scholarships, listing the small ones that you have already won.  This makes you more likely to win the larger scholarships.

3.  I would prioritize saving for retirement.  Compound interest makes such a  huge difference that starting now, even with a small amount of money, is better than putting it off, even for a couple years.  Remember, you can take loans out for college, but you can't take loans out for retirement. 

phred

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Re: Paying for college without loans
« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2014, 09:46:38 AM »
Why do you need to move to a different state?  Colleges are about the same everywhere -- especially at the CC level.  When you get your AA there are some great transfer scholarships available.  For some reason it is thought better to do your PhD at a different school than where you did your bachelors.

Anyway, four years is too short a time horizon to do any investing.  Keep the cash as cash, although you might put part into a one year CD, part into a two year CD, part into a three...
 
Moving is expensive, even DIY with a U-Haul.  You may need first, last and security for an apartment, security deposits for various utilities, etc.

Read the college catalogues on residency requirements.  Sometimes it's enough to have a new in-state driver's license, utility bills with instate address, copy of instate tax return.

While knowledgeable investing is always nice, you will get further faster by using your cash to go to school year around -- compress that time.

Does USAFI still exist?  You can frequently transfer credits in to the C.C.

How are you at self-study (no teacher)?  Between now and whenever you might consider studying for some of the CLEP exams to gain cheap credits

goatmom

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Re: Paying for college without loans
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2014, 11:12:06 AM »
Have u checked to see if your state has tuition breaks for veterans?  And yes, don't waste GI bill at CC.  Check into the yellow ribbon program where many private schools match the VA money dollar for dollar.  A great deal!  Many people get their phds funded by the university by doing research or being a teaching assistant.  I would  probably look into going to my "dream school" and use the yellow ribbon and have the whole thing paid for.  Then with a great degree get picked up for a funded phd.  Good luck!

Gin1984

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Re: Paying for college without loans
« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2014, 11:18:12 AM »
Why do you need to move to a different state?  Colleges are about the same everywhere -- especially at the CC level.  When you get your AA there are some great transfer scholarships available.  For some reason it is thought better to do your PhD at a different school than where you did your bachelors.

Anyway, four years is too short a time horizon to do any investing.  Keep the cash as cash, although you might put part into a one year CD, part into a two year CD, part into a three...
 
Moving is expensive, even DIY with a U-Haul.  You may need first, last and security for an apartment, security deposits for various utilities, etc.

Read the college catalogues on residency requirements.  Sometimes it's enough to have a new in-state driver's license, utility bills with instate address, copy of instate tax return.

While knowledgeable investing is always nice, you will get further faster by using your cash to go to school year around -- compress that time.

Does USAFI still exist?  You can frequently transfer credits in to the C.C.

How are you at self-study (no teacher)?  Between now and whenever you might consider studying for some of the CLEP exams to gain cheap credits
The same reason it is considered better to do your post-doc at a different place, hire-ability.  Those who hire want to see that you can move intuitions and do well prior to hiring you at their different institution.

MattC

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Re: Paying for college without loans
« Reply #6 on: March 22, 2014, 12:19:36 PM »
Assuming you've got 10k+ in savings; i.e. you're not going to burn through it all in a semester; you ought to take the standard MMM advice of putting it in Vanguard mutual funds.  Your  money (your "employees") will be hard at work earning you 8% a year on average while you're studying.  Worst case you hit a downturn in the market and your money goes down a bit, but that's a risk worth taking.

As for the course work, I think speed to get your bachelors would be of the essence, and might even trump slight increases in tuition cost.  Find the cheapest/best State U to get your degree.  Ask State U what the complete course requirements are for your major.  Talk with a professor or administrator to clarify what the unclear requirements are ("liberal free electives" "in-major electives" and such).  Then chart a path that gets you those courses as quickly and cheaply as possible.  You actually might want to only spend 1 year and a summer at a community college.  Bang out as many courses as possible and transfer out for your bachelors, even without a degree.  The associates is irrelevant for where you're going.  You ought to be able to get the bachelors degree in 3 years or less.  And then slog through the grad work, but there are no real shortcuts there. 

Cpa Cat

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Re: Paying for college without loans
« Reply #7 on: March 22, 2014, 01:31:27 PM »
I think it's a good idea to get your CC classes in the same state as whatever State U you want to get an undergrad at - portability tends to be much smoother between colleges within the state because they have a LOT of students who transfer back and forth. You definitely have a better chance of getting your community college credits accepted, because CCs make an effort to ensure they're meeting the standards of the State Universities in their own state.

As others have mentioned, it's important to ensure you meet the residency requirements before enrolling.

PhD programs have a tendency to pay for themselves through various means - so it's better to postpone your residency-requirement planning for your Doctorate until you've finished your undergrad. You don't know where you'll end up.

phred

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Re: Paying for college without loans
« Reply #8 on: March 22, 2014, 02:55:25 PM »
Assuming you've got 10k+ in savings; i.e. you're not going to burn through it all in a semester; you ought to take the standard MMM advice of putting it in Vanguard mutual funds.  Your  money (your "employees") will be hard at work earning you 8% a year on average while you're studying.

I disagree.  The 8% average figure is based on a much longer time period than the four years an undergrad will take.  In the Great Recession we had a year and a half of the pits coupled with two plus years of 'impossible to find a job'.  If it (a recession) should recycle while he is in college, he is basically done for.

At the undergrad level most any ol' university will do as long as it offers your major (unless, it seems, you're trying to get to Wall St.

T-Rex

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Re: Paying for college without loans
« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2014, 02:57:12 AM »
Assuming you've got 10k+ in savings; i.e. you're not going to burn through it all in a semester; you ought to take the standard MMM advice of putting it in Vanguard mutual funds.  Your  money (your "employees") will be hard at work earning you 8% a year on average while you're studying.

I disagree.  The 8% average figure is based on a much longer time period than the four years an undergrad will take.  In the Great Recession we had a year and a half of the pits coupled with two plus years of 'impossible to find a job'.  If it (a recession) should recycle while he is in college, he is basically done for.

At the undergrad level most any ol' university will do as long as it offers your major (unless, it seems, you're trying to get to Wall St.

I guess there is a chance the money could grow if I keep it in VTSMX. What about bonds instead? Or should I hold it all in a savings account (or something else) until I'm ready to go?

2527

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Re: Paying for college without loans
« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2014, 06:25:11 AM »
I worked at a university in fin aid for a while.  Using a CC to do the first two years is a great idea.  Here is the best way to do it.  Contact the 4-year school you want to graduate from, and ask them about agreements they have in place with Community Colleges.  They should be able to say something like, "If you want to graduate from us with a Bachelor's in Business, you can do the first two years at the following community colleges and all credits will transfer."  I think all schools have this program, and it may even be required by law.  At Drexel University, where I worked, the way it work was you applied to Drexel, and was accepted by them, and then you did this two year program, and it was already pre-determined that you would finish at Drexel, and they would throw in some scholarship money. 

When you call to talk to the 4-year school, be persistent and make sure you get somebody who knows what he or she is talking about.  Of course, the 4-year school would prefer to admit you for 4 full years.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2014, 06:28:35 AM by 2527 »

phred

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Re: Paying for college without loans
« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2014, 07:53:10 AM »
"I guess there is a chance the money could grow if I keep it in VTSMX. What about bonds instead? Or should I hold it all in a savings account (or something else) until I'm ready to go?"

When most of us speak of investing we are referring to the long-term view that evens out fluctuations.  Four years is too short a time period if you are planning to run through the present savings in that time period.  Consider if you had all your savings invested in an index fund just before the last market crash; you'd have very little left.

Investing is great, but in your specific case I would leave it in the bank.  Bonds? No, no, no!

The agreement 2527 refers to is usually called an articulation agreement.  Also, many universities have, in their websites, a listing of which courses they readily accept from surrounding community colleges.  This is usually found under 'transfer' or 'transfer students' or similar.

Not all community credits transfer.  First is that there is usually a credit hour transfer limit of about 64 semester hours.  Some universities, Yale may be one, don't allow any transfer credits (well, pooey on them).  Also, technology courses generally don't transfer unless you're going into a technology program.  Lastly, remedial courses - while many times necessary - won't transfer.

Finally, I wouldn't break up a course sequence.  As an example you might think all calculus courses or all intro accounting courses are the same.  Sadly, they are not in that different college departments emphasize different topics within the subject.  What I'm trying to say is that if you take accounting 101 at one college, then take accounting 102 at the same college.  If you start calculus at one college, then take calculus 102 and 103 at the same college, and so on.

T-Rex

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Re: Paying for college without loans
« Reply #13 on: March 24, 2014, 05:53:05 AM »
One other thing to note.  My brother got his masters paid for by the school he got his undergraduate from and could have had his PHD paid for as well.  So i would definitely get in good with some professors.  He got free tuition and the paid him 20k a year stipend for living expenses.  So something to look into as you're getting your undergrad.

charolastra00

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Re: Paying for college without loans
« Reply #14 on: March 24, 2014, 06:15:45 AM »
Don't discount private colleges. I graduated debt free from a private university that cost $60,000+ a year, even managing to study abroad over 3 terms in 3 different countries and work unpaid internships. I didn't take the HOPE scholarship in Georgia because it was actually CHEAPER to go to this much more expensive school across the country. While there are generally more scholarships available for traditionally aged students, there are options available for non-traditional students, especially veterans.  Look for schools with large endowments.

Some public schools offer particularly good scholarships for veterans as well. Michigan State is a standout in that regard. Georgia offers the HOPE scholarship which covers tuition if you hold a 3.0 GPA - but you would have needed to have the 3.0 in high school as well.

Be wary of community college. It is a popular option for those trying to cut costs, but is not ideal for those who have academic aspirations. What would you like to do with your PhD? It is in your best interest to go to the best school you can get into while also maximizing scholarships  to keep opportunities open. There are more PhDs than positions in academia and seeing CC or a second tier state school on your CV can hurt. Shoot for flagship state schools or higher ranked private schools. While I wouldn't go so far as calling community college the kiss of death, my alma mater would not accept transfers from community college in the same way that it would not look at GEDs outside of homeschooling or extraordinary circumstances: they bring up questions of if you could hack it in an academic environment. If you do CC, make sure it has an agreement with your flagship state school (the major public(s) in the state: UGA/Ga Tech, UVA, Michigan/MSU, Ohio, UNC-CH, etc).




goatmom

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Re: Paying for college without loans
« Reply #15 on: March 24, 2014, 07:29:56 AM »
Why are not using your GI bill??  I would use that before that gets defunded or all the fabulous yellow ribbon offers go away.

Argyle

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Re: Paying for college without loans
« Reply #16 on: March 24, 2014, 07:30:39 AM »
What kind of field are you aiming for?  One thing to do is to make sure you're aiming for a doctorate in a field in which PhDs can get jobs.  That will make a difference in how you tackle your undergraduate program.

T-Rex

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Re: Paying for college without loans
« Reply #17 on: March 24, 2014, 08:10:11 AM »
I would like to go for Psy.D. one day.

I am worried about running out of money for school.

I paid into Montgomery GI Bill and have the Navy "kicker". I am also eligible for the post 9-11 GI Bill. I know very little about how the GI bills work. I heard someone say you can use post 9-11 after Montgomery to bring tuition from 36 months to 48 months. I don't know though.

I am interested in private colleges, but I will need to prove myself as a student first, which is why I'd need to go to a community college.

Chris86

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Re: Paying for college without loans
« Reply #18 on: March 24, 2014, 09:01:31 AM »
I would like to go for Psy.D. one day.

I am worried about running out of money for school.

I paid into Montgomery GI Bill and have the Navy "kicker". I am also eligible for the post 9-11 GI Bill. I know very little about how the GI bills work. I heard someone say you can use post 9-11 after Montgomery to bring tuition from 36 months to 48 months. I don't know though.

I am interested in private colleges, but I will need to prove myself as a student first, which is why I'd need to go to a community college.

You can get both, it's hard to do though. You have to give up one benefit to get the others. In this case it would look like you use CH 30 for one year, then get the post 9/11 (giving up the CH30). I did something a little different but you should confirm with the VA. It's nice because I have about a year of benefits left to start my masters. Something to consider though - that's a lot of school - about 6-7 years. Who knows where you will be at that time and if your goals will change. I only mention that because it wouldn't benefit you if save your GI bill, only to change your mind after getting your Associates/Bachelors.

Are you still in the reserves? If not, you might want to consider it. First, most states will give you in-state rates if you are. Second, I'm guessing you've already got at least 6 years TIS - that's almost 1/3 of the way to retirement which the reserves offers. Third, tuition assistance is nice since you don't have to tap into your GI bill to get it. That would likely cover your community college bill since I think it's 4500 a year. And you get a paycheck to boot.

CPA cat made a good point - you don't want to take two years of classes only to have a few of the credits transfer to a BA in another state.

:) Chris

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Paying for college without loans
« Reply #19 on: March 24, 2014, 11:59:12 AM »
My kids have 529 plans. I THINK you can open one for yourself and I remember when I set them up for the kids, I could choose from more conservative options as well as stock market-type ones. Definitely worth looking into--I wish I could tell you more.

As you start school, be on the lookout for something that might suit you just as well without a doctoral degree--I'm not saying don't do, especially because I don't know anything about your field, but it seems like in many fields, a doctoral degree does NOT give you maximum return on investment vs. a cheaper professional degree.

Dibbels81

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Re: Paying for college without loans
« Reply #20 on: March 24, 2014, 12:03:56 PM »
I'm using the 25k I have in my traditional IRA with Vanguard to pay for my graduate school.  Money used for high ed expenses are not assessed the 10% early withdrawal penalty, though you do have to report the withdrawal as income. 

phred

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Re: Paying for college without loans
« Reply #21 on: March 24, 2014, 12:16:31 PM »
I know very little about how the GI bills work. I heard someone say you can use post 9-11 after Montgomery to bring tuition from 36 months to 48 months.

What I would do is make an appointment with the veterans counselor at your presently nearest community college.  He will know all the ins and outs.  Probably a vet himself, he should be able to give you the straight skinny.

Name brand universities are name brand because of their graduate programs and semi-independent research divisions -- and generally not because of their undergrad programs which are basically taught by still learning grad students.  Something to consider is large university -- plenty of choices, but lost in the crowd, versus small college -- fewer choices but a lot more personal.  Also consider that many students change their major two or three times.

If not too intrusive, what kind of work did you do in the Navy?  It's civilian counterpart may generate cash now.

Again, classes that don't transfer from community college are generally the practical courses such as welding, mechanics or anything with technology in its name.  If you're a glutton for punishment consider joining the community college's honors program.  As an honors graduate scholarly doors will open for you.

phred

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Re: Paying for college without loans
« Reply #22 on: March 24, 2014, 12:18:36 PM »
I'm using the 25k I have in my traditional IRA with Vanguard to pay for my graduate school.

Why could you not get a grant or an assistantship?

phred

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Re: Paying for college without loans
« Reply #23 on: March 24, 2014, 01:19:24 PM »
Several have mentioned  attending community college in the same state as the 4-year college.  There is no need to do this.  Many universities will accept international transfer credits -- hardly the same state.

This I cribbed from the u of mich website "MYTH: Even though I am getting straight As at my community college, my high school grades were bad, which will prevent me from getting into Michigan.
FACT: Not so! We look at the whole person when reviewing applications for admission, not just high-school grades. The fact that your college grades are so much improved will actually work in your favor, because it tells us that you are moving in the right direction. Talking about your struggles in high school and how you overcame them can also be an important part of your essay."

While you're still mulling over pathways, I'd like to suggest reading Community College Success by Isa Adney

gobius

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Re: Paying for college without loans
« Reply #24 on: March 24, 2014, 02:03:43 PM »
I probably wouldn't put all your money in a stock index fund since, as others said, it could drop when you actually need it.  If you want to get decent returns with less risk, you can put some in stocks, some in bonds, and some in REITs.  Or some in other non-correlating assets so that if you need some of the money, you can sell the assets that have gained value since you bought them.  I don't know how much you have saved and how long it would last.  Others suggested CD's; those won't get much but at least they won't risk being lost in the market.  Typically you want a longer timeline on your investing and don't want to have to touch the money for at least 5-10 years.

I'd read this if you haven't already.

http://jlcollinsnh.com/stock-series/
http://www.assetcorrelation.com/

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Paying for college without loans
« Reply #25 on: March 24, 2014, 06:10:51 PM »
As a recovering PhD candidate, make sure you would actually enjoy the day to day WORK. I loved studying the subject, but lecture prep and teaching was a mixed bag. And I discovered, while I was pretty good at it, I hated academic publishing.

T-Rex

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Re: Paying for college without loans
« Reply #26 on: March 24, 2014, 10:17:48 PM »
If not too intrusive, what kind of work did you do in the Navy?  It's civilian counterpart may generate cash now.

I am medical, but there is no direct translation of my job into the civilian world (maybe advanced EMT + low level nurse, but the military doesn't pay for certificates.) It can be fun, but I don't see it as a challenge anymore. I want to do something less dirty that could hold my interest in the long run.

You can get both, it's hard to do though. You have to give up one benefit to get the others. In this case it would look like you use CH 30 for one year, then get the post 9/11 (giving up the CH30). I did something a little different but you should confirm with the VA.

I have been digging around the VA website. So far I have only heard of it on MMM forum and I got a few google hits searching for it. I am still looking for the official word on it.

Are you still in the reserves? If not, you might want to consider it. First, most states will give you in-state rates if you are. Second, I'm guessing you've already got at least 6 years TIS - that's almost 1/3 of the way to retirement which the reserves offers. Third, tuition assistance is nice since you don't have to tap into your GI bill to get it. That would likely cover your community college bill since I think it's 4500 a year. And you get a paycheck to boot.

I will definitely consider it.

As a recovering PhD candidate, make sure you would actually enjoy the day to day WORK. I loved studying the subject, but lecture prep and teaching was a mixed bag. And I discovered, while I was pretty good at it, I hated academic publishing.

I asked a psychologist about the career path and work, and he seems to love their work for the same reason I want to do it. Military psychologists have more limited treatment options compared to civilians due to each patients' part in the overall mission, though.

T-Rex

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Re: Paying for college without loans
« Reply #27 on: March 25, 2014, 02:33:39 AM »
http://www.savingforcollege.com/tutorial101/the_real_cost_of_higher_education.php

I have 4 years of college covered with about $51,000 with MGIB + Navy College Fund for 36 months. Then I will do the 12 month "extension" of Post 9-11 GI Bill.

This still looks pretty expensive. I am leaning toward saving money in a 529 now for use further down the line. It looks like CDs only return about 1-2% and that doesn't sound any better to me than a conservative 529 plan. Plus if I decide college isn't for me, I can change the beneficiary to DW or a child one day. Tell me if  you have a better idea!
« Last Edit: March 25, 2014, 02:44:37 AM by T-Rex »

T-Rex

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Re: Paying for college without loans
« Reply #28 on: March 25, 2014, 02:39:16 AM »
Moving is expensive, even DIY with a U-Haul.  You may need first, last and security for an apartment, security deposits for various utilities, etc.

I am dual military marriage, she gets out a month after me. I found out you can move back to your home of record for free, I'm assuming married couples can pick one.

goatmom

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Re: Paying for college without loans
« Reply #29 on: March 25, 2014, 06:10:57 AM »
They will actually move you one time - anywhere.  Well, in the US I guess.  We did it last summer and did a dity which was a royal pain, not worth the money, but allowed us flexibility which we needed.