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College Savings Reality Check JAWM


Tsuga
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So, now that I'm working two jobs (1.5 really) and have re-committed and the kids are in school, i.e. I'm not paying for pre-school or daycare, I decided to try to save. We had college savings for DD1 from before the recession. I thought saving child support would be the easiest thing to save and my ex-h agreed that as long as I'm not saying "no" to activities because of money, then by all means let's save it for college.

 

I just calculated that if I save every penny of the (rather large considering that he's military) child support until DD1 goes to college, and if tuition does not go up even a single penny, I still will only be able to pay for 70% of their college costs for in-state tuition living at home.

 

Or maybe, "Yay, I can pay 3/4 of their college tuition simply by not getting child support!"

 

Or one person could go to Harvard for one year, LOL.

 

Eta... This is not supposed to be a debate or poor me. Obviously if I can swing this we will be doing awesome and yes we have choices. I'm just gasping at the price tag and I know very well what it is--part of my job is analyzing data on financial need and outcomes. I know we'll make it because I see kids with our income. We'll make it. :) Still, holy in-state tuition, Batman!

Edited by Tsuga
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My husband reminded me that we don't have to have everything saved for 4 years of college right at the beginning of Freshman Year, because we can continue to put $ towards it each year.

 

That didn't help much, but it did help a little.

 

Plus--scholarships. I know she is eligible for at least 2, even if one is only 1K.

 

IOW, I feel your pain.

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My oldest son is a sophomore in college. I really thought that since he had stellar grades, etc...and we don't make a lot, that he'd get enough financial aid. Umm no. He qualified for 1 program through our state, but he still has to take out a loan each semester and he's living at home and at a state school.

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Handy rule for investing:

 

The Rule of 72:

 

1. Divide 72 by the annual interest rate

2. That's approximately how many years it takes for your money to double.

 

So if the market averages 10%, your money will double in about 7.2 years. So waiting even a few years to start can significantly reduce how much your child has at age 18 (since in high school you'll want to make the investments much more conservative). I say this not to make anyone feel bad about having not been able to afford investing before (or having not prioritized it), but rather to give people a kick in the pants.

 

I think that someone on this forum (Laurie maybe?) says she always tells parents to open a college account at birth. I think that even if someone can only put in money at birthdays, doing it as a baby is a good idea, just to get in the habit. Also, some states have good tax credits for 529 contributions, so you may be able to afford to put more money in than your realize. 

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I am holding out hope that the pendulum starts swinging the other way as far as college tuition costs, sometime over the next 8 years.

 

I do have some $$ but at the rate things are going, I can't be sure it will be enough.  If it isn't enough, my kids will have to figure it out.  That's why I'm trying to raise kids who are not helpless.  :)

 

I could save the money we spend on experiences now, but I consider the experiences to be an important part of their education, and a bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush.  :)

 

I think online and alternative options will provide enough competition that colleges will be pressured to cut some of the stupid costs in order to remain competitive.

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How many years do you have? If it's more than 5 or so, you need to be investing, not saving. It's the same as with retirement. Hardly anyone could ever save for retirement, but with decades of compound interest, investing for retirement is possible for many.

Yeah... I invested their college fund the first time. We did open an account at birth.

 

Last year, we were back up to the amount we put in. But this year we're back down below that again. Apparently this is common. Eta: this is a 529.

 

I don't know who's getting compound interest but um... Not me, and I don't have the $$$ (obviously) to pay someone who will not screw me over. I mean, theoretically it is "invested" and collects "interest" but volatility in the stock market means that even with a conservative portfolio we are losing more years than we gain.

 

Investment cost my mom thousands and she's not stupid--this was though her work, a large company! AIG lost her money, at least part of it, the first time. I have American Funds for their college. So far, they have only lost over a nine year period. Zero gains.

 

Investment only works for the big players as I understand it.

 

Thanks love but I'll be keeping my money in the safest possible places. If I invest I still won't count on interest. Seems stupid to count on pay outs that never materialize.

Edited by Tsuga
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I am holding out hope that the pendulum starts swinging the other way as far as college tuition costs, sometime over the next 8 years.

 

I do have some $$ but at the rate things are going, I can't be sure it will be enough.  If it isn't enough, my kids will have to figure it out.  That's why I'm trying to raise kids who are not helpless.  :)

 

I could save the money we spend on experiences now, but I consider the experiences to be an important part of their education, and a bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush.  :)

 

I think online and alternative options will provide enough competition that colleges will be pressured to cut some of the stupid costs in order to remain competitive.

 

This is our family.

 

We are in that annoying place where we can't afford to pay for college, but we make too much to qualify for the low income stuff.

 

Thankfully, we live in TN and TN promise has kicked in.

 

My oldest has the grades and test scores for other scholarships, so I don't think she will be drowning in debt.

 

 

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Yeah... I invested their college fund the first time. We did open an account at birth.

 

Last year, we were back up to the amount we put in. But this year we're back down below that again. Apparently this is common. Eta: this is a 529.

 

I don't know who's getting compound interest but um... Not me, and I don't have the $$$ (obviously) to pay someone who will not screw me over. I mean, theoretically it is "invested" and collects "interest" but volatility in the stock market means that even with a conservative portfolio we are losing more years than we gain.

 

Investment cost my mom thousands and she's not stupid--this was though her work, a large company! AIG lost her money, at least part of it, the first time. I have American Funds for their college. So far, they have only lost over a nine year period. Zero gains.

 

Investment only works for the big players as I understand it.

 

Thanks love but I'll be keeping my money in the safest possible places. If I invest I still won't count on interest. Seems stupid to count on pay outs that never materialize.

 

Did you investigate the GET program back before the tuition reduction? That's how we were able to save, safely, for our younger. I'm not sure what the future holds for the program but that might be a safer option if/when it reopens. 

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I throw a little in the 529 (vanguard, mostly index funds, which is all the risk i can manage even though DH is in that business), only because we get a state tax benefit for doing so.

We will have approx a half hour of college paid by the time DS starts...but because we had him fairly young, we get to pay as we go, and that's what I'm counting on.

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We are partially counting on my being able to work more as kids start driving and going off to college. I intentionally chose a career that I thought I would be able to ramp up or scale back in different seasons of life, and it has worked well so far. My boss is about ten years ahead of me in life events, so I expect she may be scaling back and passing more to me as I am ready to ramp up for one big push before I retire. I get paid by the billable hour, so that works out nicely.

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Thanks love but I'll be keeping my money in the safest possible places. 

 

I understand. Many people feel this way. Behavioral economists have discovered that people feel twice as strongly about losing x dollars than gaining y dollars. For example, losing $25 makes people feel as strongly bad as gaining $50 makes them feel strongly good.

 

I think what people leave out of the equation is that in the long run, inflation will always get you. So while it feels safe to keep money in a savings account paying nothing, over decades it can't possibly keep up with inflation. People may risk losing money with mutual funds, but they are guaranteed to lose to inflation. (As far as I can tell, the system is designed that way on purpose, but that's another topic.)

 

So if your kids are in high school, sure, keep the money in a CD or something. If they are very young, the only thing you can be assured of is that tuition is going to continue up and investing is the only possibility of keeping up. (Unless you get a raise or start a business that succeeds.)

 

That said, having 70% of tuition saved is a good start and better than many parents are doing, even those with good incomes. When the time comes, you're unlikely to wish you had saved less, so good job getting started and keep it up!

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College costs are the only thing that make me regret my family size. It is terrifying.

 

Eta--And eating out. Every time we go out to dinner, I think, "Why do we have all these kids?!?"

Edited by Moxie
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People are using dual enrollment to cut costs.

 

Hasn't Obama talked about making CC free?  I don't know much about it, but have heard something.

 

Our CC is $78 per credit hour, with fees, books, etc....it is still under $3,000/year.  

 

Our local 4 year school is $6,500 for tuition and add in books, fees, etc....and it comes to under $10K (if you live at home, that doesn't include room and board.)

 

We are really encouraging them to live at home and save $$ and focus on any particulars in grad school.

 

If they choose to go elsewhere, we have told them they will need to find a way to cover the difference in cost.

 

Plan B is for me to go back to work and use my salary to pay for college.  I have a feeling my middle son will want to attend a 4 year Christian college.  I am ok with that, I just don't want them to go into debt.  

 

We still won't give them a "money is no object" carte blanche perspective, but we will help if we can.

Edited by DawnM
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Did you investigate the GET program back before the tuition reduction? That's how we were able to save, safely, for our younger. I'm not sure what the future holds for the program but that might be a safer option if/when it reopens.

 

At the time, GET programs in a couple of states were very shaky. So we did not do that. Now I regret it but it's too late. Anyway, now there's a tuition freeze so interest might be a better bet. ETA: I do know one person who invested when tuition was at an all-time high. I'm not sure what the state is going to do for those people but tuition reductions might save GET... it just seems like you can't win!

 

The military and CC are of course options. I just don't want them to face what I faced. When I went to college and saved it was to provide more for my kids.

 

Hoppy: I think you misunderstood me. I have been investing for 10 years now. I have a net loss. Does that make sense? It's not that I'm not getting rich. I literally would have more money if I had saved in paper money. Like, there were no returns. This is from 2006 so okay, 9 years.

 

This is literal, real loss that I have to add on to inflation. 

 

And the college costs I estimated were for in-state tuition loving LIVING at home. Out of state? Nope. Not even on the radar.

 

I edited to fix phone errors.

Edited by Tsuga
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Community college (unless your local school is plain bad, luckily ours is highly ranked) and have kid get best grades possible to get merit scholarships/grants. Heck, with our first kid, the merit awards etc. made a LAC cheaper for us than the local state U. Worth aiming for.

 

Oh, as others mention - AP and CLEP as much as possible. Dual enrollment if allowed (not an option in our district).  Plus - not everone will need a four-year degree.  Depends on interests and abilities of the student. One of my kids decided to work full-time and do night school at the local cc, working for a certificate in pastry making.  There are more practical certificates and two-year degrees, too (can you tell I am not convinced she will make a living selling cupcakes?)

Edited by JFSinIL
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I did the "dumb" thing and kept all my money in money market.  As a result, I didn't lose any money in those "crashes" etc.

 

I am an MBA/CPA/tax lawyer, so I understand finance, but I have some instinct that tends to serve me well.  (So far, anyway.)

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At the time, Get programs in a couple of states were very shaky. So we did not do that. Now I regret it but it's too late. Anyway, now there's a tuition freeze so interest might be a better bet.

 

The military and CC are of course options. I just don't want them to face what I faced. When I went to college and saved it was to provide more for my kids.

 

Hoppy: I think you misunderstood me. I have been investing for 10 years now. I have a net loss. Does that make sense? It's not that I'm not getting rich. I literally would have more money if I had saved in paper money. Like, there were no returns. This is from 2006 so okay, 9 years.

 

This is literal, real loss that I have to add on to inflation. :

 

And the college costs I estimated were for in-state tuition loving at home.

Out of state? Nope. Not even on the radar.

 

Totally understand. My second post-undergrad job was at the WA Student Aid Commission (formerly HECB) just as the GET program was created. It was a very good deal then (insane at $38/unit) and we took advantage, opening accounts before we even had kids. I told every family member I knew about it at the time but only a handful took advantage because the college savings Web sites that were popular at the time were urging stocks/mutual funds. They were wrong. Hopefully the leg will keep tuition manageable and there's always running start, a very, very good option.

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Are you in a state with a guaranteed transfer program from community colleges to universities? Then you should have enough to cover it.

 

Also, CLEP and AP out of things.  Also, test prep extensively to get stellar SAT or ACT scores.  Presidential scholarships mean free school.

 

If that's not possible, some sports are easier to earn scholarships for than others.

 

If that's not possible ROTC or National Guard are options if you're open to them.

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For a long time I tortured myself with the thoughts of, "How is this saving for college thing possibly going to work out?" The only way for us to cover the whole thing is to eat ramen all the time, and that seems like a particularly bad plan.  :p

 

Then a friend gave me the advice to just accept that it wasn't going to work out. :p So now I accept if my kids want to go to a private 4-year college the whole way, they need to get scholarships, financial aid, jobs, and/or loans. At the rate we are saving they are each going to have 75% or less of what they might need, and that's with a lot of sacrifice. It terrifies me that they might need loans for graduate school on top of undergrad.

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I'll trot out the link to one of my favorite lists of automatic full tuition and full ride scholarships (this is complied by posters on the College Confidential forums)

 

http://automaticfulltuition.yolasite.com

 

The best source of college savings is scholarships. The best and largest scholarships are the ones that are awarded by the college or university. They want to attract talented students to their institution.

 

This is a listing of competitive full ride and full tuition scholarships (some are more competitive than others)

http://competitivefulltuition.yolasite.com

 

And this is a listing of scholarships for National Merit Finalists and Semifinalists (those who score very well on the 11th grade PSAT exam)

http://nmfscholarships.yolasite.com

Edited by Luckymama
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My guys earned more by getting high ACT/SAT scores than we ever could have saved ourselves or via their working.  We are not in an inexpensive state, so private schools worked out as cheap (or less) than our state schools did.

 

Mine still have basic student loans - the Fed variety - but we're ok with that (as are they).

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I did the "dumb" thing and kept all my money in money market.  As a result, I didn't lose any money in those "crashes" etc.

 

I am an MBA/CPA/tax lawyer, so I understand finance, but I have some instinct that tends to serve me well.  (So far, anyway.)

 

What is "money market"? I am Googling. My grandparents used regular stocks and the market and their pensions and that worked really well for them, so that's what my mom did, and me when I was young.  Well, my mom is really hard off, though at least she had lower costs (no daycare since she left us at home alone from an early age, etc.) so she was saving and now has her savings and has moved most of it. As for me, the savings that were left are now just under 2006 value. I would LOVE to do something cautious with them that will still earn interest, but I don't know how and I feel like the #1 thing right now is real estate--where we can live and in a place that is going to stay at least the same value. The value is coming from more permanent values like ecology, new infrastructure, and so on. But that's just one thing.

 

 

 

My guys earned more by getting high ACT/SAT scores than we ever could have saved ourselves or via their working.

 

Creekland, did their percentiles ever go up? My girls are very smart but they are not in the top .1% overall, especially not when taking adaptive tests. I was in the top .5%. Semifinalist. Thanks for the commendation. ;) It wasn't good enough. NMF is top .1%. I don't think that my girls will get that high of scores knowing what they are compared to their peers right now. I mean I do try but...

 

I just know enough kids to know that even though I love my children dearly, scholarships are not a great hope. Oh, and my partner, who went to better schools and also played sports, won art contests, volunteered overseas just like me, blah blah blah... even in the mid-nineties, he got scholarships amounting to MAYBE 10% of total tuition. I mean we both got half our tuition "paid for" at private school, but that still leaves a bigger bill than at the state school without a single penny in scholarships! Which is why we both finished at the state school with almost no merit aid in spite of having top 5% CC grades, top SATs, and on and on and on.

 

I know your kids are really gifted and that's great but that is not a realistic plan for most people.

 

By definition, most of us just aren't that special. It sounds pessimistic but it's true. My mom thought for sure that with my test scores and being in the top 1% of my class grade-wise, not even weighted and with APs, I'd get a full ride. She didn't do the math. 1/100... there aren't full rides for 1% when you get to college because everyone's up there.

 

That just doesn't happen for most people. And I got into the accelerated gifted program... my kids are a percentile shy, and there's less money now, and more people compared to spots. So they perform worse and have more competition.

 

Doesn't add up. :(

 

I do appreciate the "guaranteed spots" colleges. We are far from there. I was just thinking ahead... trying to solve it all now.

 

I will talk with a savings rep about money market and moving my 529 there. Anything is better than where I have it. What a scam. I'd have had more if I had left it in a checking account! I don't want to waste the money I'm getting now as well. Thanks, SKL.

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For a long time I tortured myself with the thoughts of, "How is this saving for college thing possibly going to work out?" The only way for us to cover the whole thing is to eat ramen all the time, and that seems like a particularly bad plan.  :p

 

Then a friend gave me the advice to just accept that it wasn't going to work out. :p So now I accept if my kids want to go to a private 4-year college the whole way, they need to get scholarships, financial aid, jobs, and/or loans. At the rate we are saving they are each going to have 75% or less of what they might need, and that's with a lot of sacrifice. It terrifies me that they might need loans for graduate school on top of undergrad.

 

Yes... but I'm taking about in-state public school tuition, i.e. college, period. Best case scenario they still have to do it for two years, though the CCs in my state are doing applied baccalaureates now.

 

Like someone could work minimum wage 20 hours per week and spend none of it, for 10 years, and still not pay for in-state tuition!

 

That's more what I'm highlighting.

 

In-state, live-at-home costs. 

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Only middle son is in the tippy top, and he still missed NMF due to a clock/watch technical error on his part PSAT testing day.   :glare:   

 

Nonetheless, by carefully selecting schools, my guys ended up at places they like that offered good merit aid and/or were able to get down to our EFC - which for us - is doable.  We definitely have adjusted our budget to make it doable, but we choose to do that for them.

 

Tippy top kid had the most choices, of course, but my "better than average" kids did ok too.  They were both in the top 10% at their respective schools, but not top of the top.  They had hooks for them in that they chose out of state private schools, aimed at LACs which tend to have more gals than guys (so wanted more guys), had a rural zip code (I truly believe that helps), and all have interesting backgrounds via homeschooling (for oldest, not youngest), our travels, helping dad with his job, church activities, chess, scuba, etc (scuba is nothing special at youngest's school).  Oldest (and middle) also had impressive graduation projects they did all on their own (raising money for charity).

 

Had we tried local schools (within 4 hours of home) I doubt their packages would have been anywhere near as good due to too much local competition.

 

Tippy top kid could have gone to school for free at some places, but we preferred to let him pick a better fit school that was within our financial reach.  I don't know that my other two could have gone anywhere for free.  We don't need free.  We can make it work with our EFC and I don't mind paying for a college education - we just can't be full pay.

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Are you in a state with a guaranteed transfer program from community colleges to universities? Then you should have enough to cover it.

 

Also, CLEP and AP out of things.  Also, test prep extensively to get stellar SAT or ACT scores.  Presidential scholarships mean free school.

 

If that's not possible, some sports are easier to earn scholarships for than others.

 

If that's not possible ROTC or National Guard are options if you're open to them.

 

Yes, the military is the first option for them. They'd be fifth generation US Military, and excluding their dad (Army), 4th generation US Marines. :)

 

And no, there are absolutely no guaranteed transfers. There is guaranteed credit-transfer, meaning that IF you get in they can't deny those credits, but certain programs can deny them. There are no guarantees, no.

 

However, I agree that military+CC is an option.

 

Just like it was for me, the daughter of a single mom who got her Associate Degree while I was in middle school. Zero progress. :P And the same for our faculty.

 

The other day one faculty member--a married woman, child was planned, and they own a home--said that her son was attending CC part time and they might have to sell their home. She's math faculty. Son did well but not well enough for huge scholarships. :( I don't know how that happens either but it's heartbreaking.

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Tippy top kid could have gone to school for free at some places, but we preferred to let him pick a better fit school that was within our financial reach.  I don't know that my other two could have gone anywhere for free.  We don't need free.  We can make it work with our EFC and I don't mind paying for a college education - we just can't be full pay.

 

Exactly. Some support is better than none. Also, have you looked at online colleges that are rated among the top ten in the nation - typically located in a remote area which is why they have developed excellent online programs - and offer very competitive tuition rates? One of them is FHSU. Brick and mortar school and accredited. For the BA / BS it would probably suffice, for the Master's and PhD student can select college of choice if it's important which institution is on the diploma.

 

Edited by Liz CA
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75% is more than a lot of people have. College bound youngster can get a little work experience and supplement with scholarships or Pell Grant as well.

 

I don't think that is how Pell Grants work. That 70% (ish) is being saved because we are nowhere near qualifying for Pell! Nowhere near. If we were, how would we ever get that money? It would be spent on food.

 

 

ETA: People getting Pell are really poor you guys. I can't tell you how many people can't believe they don't qualify, and I feel for them. But for real. I don't know how Pell grantees survived up to college, to be honest. WIC, free lunch, probably. To get Pell at a CC you basically have to be an orphan.

 

But that's right... if they work full-time over the summers, that can be a lot. Hopefully they won't need unpaid internships or anything.

Edited by Tsuga
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Only middle son is in the tippy top, and he still missed NMF due to a clock/watch technical error on his part PSAT testing day.   :glare:   

 

Nonetheless, by carefully selecting schools, my guys ended up at places they like that offered good merit aid and/or were able to get down to our EFC - which for us - is doable.  We definitely have adjusted our budget to make it doable, but we choose to do that for them.

 

Tippy top kid had the most choices, of course, but my "better than average" kids did ok too.  They were both in the top 10% at their respective schools, but not top of the top.  They had hooks for them in that they chose out of state private schools, aimed at LACs which tend to have more gals than guys (so wanted more guys), had a rural zip code (I truly believe that helps), and all have interesting backgrounds via homeschooling (for oldest, not youngest), our travels, helping dad with his job, church activities, chess, scuba, etc (scuba is nothing special at youngest's school).  Oldest (and middle) also had impressive graduation projects they did all on their own (raising money for charity).

 

Had we tried local schools (within 4 hours of home) I doubt their packages would have been anywhere near as good due to too much local competition.

 

Tippy top kid could have gone to school for free at some places, but we preferred to let him pick a better fit school that was within our financial reach.  I don't know that my other two could have gone anywhere for free.  We don't need free.  We can make it work with our EFC and I don't mind paying for a college education - we just can't be full pay.

 

This is interesting. When I went to school there was a lot less information about different colleges but I did apply to a lot of scholarships. I was a rural zip code, nobody cared, LOL!

 

When I went to school, church, chess, trombone, marching band, having a job for four years, charity, mission trip for me, volunteering with dad overseas for my partner... that didn't get us anything. Which is understandable because literally everyone else at our schools did the same thing. You know? Like we thought we were special but we weren't. I think I can only take the heartbreak once so I'm bracing myself.

 

I came in very close to NMF as well without preparing... I didn't know people prepared... how is that for kicking yourself??? UGH. Same with my partner. Our kids will be better informed but guess who else? The entire country.

 

I do wonder about one thing. Isn't it more expensive to have your kids pay room and board at LACs? My calculation was for living at home.

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The other day one faculty member--a married woman, child was planned, and they own a home--said that her son was attending CC part time and they might have to sell their home. She's math faculty. Son did well but not well enough for huge scholarships. :( I don't know how that happens either but it's heartbreaking.

 

Honestly...I live in a high COL area but this seems overblown. Is her son hoping to graduate from Yale or Harvard and there are no other choices? Do they have a mortgage that is way out of budget? Something just seems wrong here, especially since she is a math professor and we therefore know that she is making more than $12.50 (or whatever minimum wage is in your area) an hour.

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Like someone could work minimum wage 20 hours per week and spend none of it, for 10 years, and still not pay for in-state tuition!

 

 

In-state, live-at-home costs. 

 

Minimum wage at $7.25 * 20 hours per week *50 weeks per year * 10 years = $72,500

 

Subtracting 15% income tax and 7.5% FICA/Medicare leaves about $56,000.

 

Just how much is your in-state tuition?

 

A few other things to keep in mind:

1. College costs are expected to be paid from past, present, and future earnings. In other words, savings (past earnings), present  income, and loans (future earnings).  You aren't expected to have 100% of 4-years of costs on day 1.

2. If AOC continues to be extended, that's $2,500 of eligible costs that is refunded to you as a tax credit each year.

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I don't think that is how Pell Grants work. That 70% (ish) is being saved because we are nowhere near qualifying for Pell! Nowhere near. If we were, how would we ever get that money? It would be spent on food.

 

 

ETA: People getting Pell are really poor you guys. I can't tell you how many people can't believe they don't qualify, and I feel for them. But for real. I don't know how Pell grantees survived up to college, to be honest. WIC, free lunch, probably. To get Pell at a CC you basically have to be an orphan.

 

But that's right... if they work full-time over the summers, that can be a lot. Hopefully they won't need unpaid internships or anything.

 

I didn't think Pell for CC but then we have the fee waiver here for CC. CCs are not very expensive even without waiver. DS does not have a waiver where he lives. If your kids take full advantage and take every available class that counts at a 4- year university you will have saved money right there. I don't know how "poor" you have to be to get Pell but I would not think it's a good option for CC anyway.

Edited by Liz CA
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I do wonder about one thing. Isn't it more expensive to have your kids pay room and board at LACs? My calculation was for living at home.

 

It might be, but it's important to us, so worth it.

 

I just want folks to know that one doesn't always pay sticker price.  We sure aren't.  Pending state and school one also doesn't always find the least expensive option at a state school.  It wasn't that way for two of my three.

 

Tippy top kid came in the closest with Pitt costing about 1-2K more than U Rochester did, yet U Rochester (sticker price) is far more than Pitt.  Student loans at either are identical (basic fed loans).

 

Neither of my other two would have been able to get accepted at U Rochester to be honest, nor would they have gotten merit aid at Pitt or our other state schools.  Where they have gone worked out less expensive than state schools for oldest.  A state school (not Pitt, but our true state schools like Millersville) would probably have cost youngest about 5K annually less, but wouldn't have had the fit he desired.

 

A big key for those looking at colleges is to run net price calculators to see what their cost at any given school is likely to be, then to see if they feel that is in an affordable range.  Not all schools will cost the same.  Merit aid and need based aid can come into play.

Edited by creekland
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Honestly...I live in a high COL area but this seems overblown. Is her son hoping to graduate from Yale or Harvard and there are no other choices? Do they have a mortgage that is way out of budget? Something just seems wrong here, especially since she is a math professor and we therefore know that she is making more than $12.50 (or whatever minimum wage is in your area) an hour.

 

Part-time instructors for about 20 hours a week make around $15k/year. The absolute maximum you can make, if you are tenured at end of career, is $57,000.

 

That would be one of the highest paid full-time instructors in the state. Some colleges pay over $60k but not much.

 

The take-home is lower obviously.

 

Living in this city, that would mean that your average CC instructor makes a lower-than-average salary.

 

Her son attends the same CC she teaches at. They cannot afford more at this time.

 

I think part of what happened with them was that they bought a house with variable interest and also help family, but not like, to some amazing degree. 

 

So they don't have a lot left over. I personally find it amazing myself but I don't know how many kids total they have. My guess is that they're in the no-Pell zone with salaries but they haven't saved due the recession, job losses, etc.

 

I guess they just can't afford an extra $500/month, which is what CC tuition+fees costs.

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Also whenever having these conversations I do feel like... nobody talks about their own college journey. How did you guys pay for college? Am I on some generational cusp where we were the first ones to take out loans even while working 30 hours a week during school and 80 over summers? I remember all this stuff happening to ME. I'll never forget literally drooling looking at the vegetarian chili... my professor bought it for me! I was so hungry.

 

So I remember well, studying, the walks to the computer lab. I feel like others talk about their kids' experiences but I remember my own. Nothing seems to have changed much since then. People who get scholarships say "you should try scholarships" but I don't remember that working for many people except the Catholics. I mean some people get lucky but as a strategy it doesn't seem wise.

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I guess they just can't afford an extra $500/month, which is what CC tuition+fees costs.

 

Wow. This thread is so interesting. CC costs $500 a MONTH in Washington? Crazy. Our local CC charges about $50 a unit for those who are not qualifiying for the fee waiver which CA residents can get.

I am glad I was able to knock a good number of units out with CLEP... which is another option. You don't need to be a genius (look at me :) ) to pass all kinds of classes by CLEP. Some colleges have limits on how many CLEP units you can bring in but it's so worth it.

 

ETA: To answer your question above. Dh had loans. I pay as I go.

Edited by Liz CA
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Yes, this thread had me really freaked out about our state universities until I looked up tuition costs. It is similar to what is posted above. Definitely not cheap, but hopefully doable for us in the future with me back to working at least part time. Are you sure you weren't looking at the out of state costs or costs including living away from home?

 

ETA: How did we do it? We had some family help, we got merit scholarships, we worked jobs (similar to your hours), and we took out some loans (which are thankfully almost paid off, although it has been a long road).

Edited by FairProspects
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I don't in any way want to make light of this concern. However, I would encourage everyone who is worried about paying for "college" to remember that there are approximately a bazillion different ways to go to -- and pay for -- college. "College" doesn't have to mean four years full time at a private or large, expensive state school living on campus. I know a lot of people who are choosing to do two years at a community college or to knock out a year or more worth of credits via dual enrollment while still in high school, which cuts the total cost considerably from the "averages" that too often get bandied about in news stories.

 

Also, I don't personally know one single person who is paying the sticker price at the college he or she attends. Everyone seems to be getting scholarships and grants that very effectively discount the cost.

 

It's a little bit like the widespread terror about "getting in to college." The reality is that there are many, many more colleges in this country than most people think, and there is a place and a path for every student who truly wants an education and not just an impressive bumper sticker.

 

Let's use my son as an example.

 

He did a year of dual enrollment at our local community college, which cost us nothing except what we paid for textbooks. He self-studied for and took two CLEPs, which cost less than $100 each. Between the two, he earned about a year's worth of credits before graduating from high school.

 

I should say that he is a capable but fairly indifferent student. His unweighted GPA came in at 3.7, with a pretty standard college prep curriculum, and he did just enough honors and dual enrollment classes to earn the "honors designation" we promised for his transcript. That GPA included courses many folks here wouldn't deign to list on a transcript, including driver's ed, and he had only the minimal two years of foreign language. He had no advanced math. No APs. His highest ACT composite was a 27. His passions mostly relate to performing arts, and he considered high school a necessary evil to get him the college-level training he wanted in his field. He kept his grades up because we made it clear we wouldn't foot the bill for his dance classes if he didn't.

 

He felt strongly that he wanted to attend a small-ish liberal arts college. We had serious talks about the fact that most of the schools he was really excited about were laughably beyond our ability to pay. We had essentially no savings earmarked for his college, meaning our contribution had to be limited to what we could reasonably expect I could earn returning to work (part time at first) after being home for nearly 18 years. To be safe, I set that limit at $10,000 or less per year. That would have been plenty to pay full price out of pocket for community college or the local state university if he lived at home. We made sure he understood that would have to be the fallback position if he was not able to get enough scholarship/grant money to cover the gap at one of his preferred schools.

 

He applied mostly to colleges at which his stats put him in the upper 25% of admitted students. In other words, he didn't apply to  super-selective, elite schools. He wasn't interested in jumping through the hoops that would have been necessary in order to do so and was equally uninterested in a high-pressure, extremely competitive environment. He knew himself well enough to know that he learns best and is most engaged when he has ample opportunity to perform, and we figured out early on that was most likely to happen at smaller, less prestigious schools. 

 

Edited to add: We do not qualify for any need-based aid at all. So, everything my son was awarded was based on either academic merit or performance talent.

 

When the dust all settled, he ended up with scholarship/grant packages that made three colleges financially feasible. One of them was the one he had already decided was his favorite, so the decision was effectively made as soon as we got that envelope.

 

He's now almost midway through his second year and is very happy with his choice. He's getting great training and tons of personal attention and is performing multiple times each semester. He's comfortable socially and having to work just a bit to keep his grades high enough to hold onto his scholarships. ("Work" may be an over-statement; it's more that he has to pay attention, show up for class and do the assignments.)

 

The "sticker price" for this school is close to $40,000 per year. We're paying less than $10,000 out of pocket. And, because of the credits he earned prior to enrolling -- all of which were accepted by the college -- he could graduate in three years, if he chose to do so. Since he was young when he started and is doing a double major, we've strongly encouraged him not to rush. But, if we were more worried about cost, it would be another way to trim the budget.

 

So, no, he's not going to an Ivy League school, but he's getting a good education that is appropriate for his path, having a great time doing it, and not costing us a penny more than we can manage.

 

Honest, if you keep an open mind and don't panic, this doesn't have to be nearly as big an issue as many folks think.

 

 

 

Edited by Jenny in Florida
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Part-time instructors for about 20 hours a week make around $15k/year. The absolute maximum you can make, if you are tenured at end of career, is $57,000.

 

That would be one of the highest paid full-time instructors in the state. Some colleges pay over $60k but not much.

 

The take-home is lower obviously.

 

Living in this city, that would mean that your average CC instructor makes a lower-than-average salary.

 

Her son attends the same CC she teaches at. They cannot afford more at this time.

 

I think part of what happened with them was that they bought a house with variable interest and also help family, but not like, to some amazing degree.

 

So they don't have a lot left over. I personally find it amazing myself but I don't know how many kids total they have. My guess is that they're in the no-Pell zone with salaries but they haven't saved due the recession, job losses, etc.

 

I guess they just can't afford an extra $500/month, which is what CC tuition+fees costs.

I would think that a math faculty member could make significantly more money doing applied work in the public or private sector. I would definitely rather be teaching, but at this time am not willing to accept such a low salary.

 

Also, I know many families don't want their kids to take out loans, but I've known several people who later helped their children pay off the loans. Since most people are paying for at least some college costs with current income, it becomes a way to extend the timeframe for parent contributions. And don't underestimate how much some students can earn. My son doesn't work very much, but he earns more than the equivalent of state U tuition. In his case, he's fortunate to be able to save all of it due to scholarships and our college savings.

 

And if your children have any interest in golf at all, many excellent schools have full scholarships for golf caddies, so have them start being a caddy as soon as they are eligible. I don't have the link right now, but this is a little known but very lucrative scholarship program. Some of the schools even have special houses for the scholarship recipients. And studying in other countries with free or low cost tuition and low living costs is another option. As an example, Germany is moving towards having more and more of its programs taught in English. Someone recently posted a link in another thread.

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Wow. This thread is so interesting. CC costs $500 a MONTH in Washington? Crazy. Our local CC charges about $50 a unit for those who are not qualifiying for the fee waiver which CA residents can get.

I am glad I was able to knock a good number of units out with CLEP... which is another option. You don't need to be a genius (look at me :) ) to pass all kinds of classes by CLEP. Some colleges have limits on how many CLEP units you can bring in but it's so worth it.

 

ETA: To answer your question above. Dh had loans. I pay as I go.

 

California has a wonderful, wonderful higher education system. Possibly the best in the world all things considered. My own mom went to CC there, but the QOL was so awful for us kids at that time. We couldn't afford to live in a decent neighborhood and so we had to stay indoors while she worked, which was all the time. All I remember was sitting in front of a fan (no AC) and looking at the glaring sun. So, tradeoffs, I guess.

 

I calculated that, going full time, at our CCs here in the Seattle area, if you have 12 credits, then it's about $1200 in tuition plus fees per quarter, so divided by 2.5 months, yeah, that's about $500/month.

 

The far away CCs in rural areas are less but there are far fewer opportunities for work out there of course.

 

I've considered California as we have family there, but my older daughter is allergic to the air there.  :sad:  Long story short, I knew she had bronchitis as a baby and a chronic cold one trip but in CA I was able to put it together. She's sensitive to smoke. Constantly sick in CA.

 

My heart just breaks for the children living in California with asthma.

 

Still, the little one is less sensitive health wise so maybe if she spends her last year in HS there she has a chance.

 

The other choice is overseas with DP's cousins.

Edited by Tsuga
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Oh and I'm not even talking about my step kids. Their mom started even after me, has even less, and the same salary, plus higher loans. I think the guaranteed tuition schools will come in REALLY handy for DSD1. She's a great student and very ambitious and wants to go to Texas. Thanks so much for that.

Edited by Tsuga
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I don't know.  The more aggrestive investing stuff still feels a lot like going to the casino (minus "free" drinks) and hoping for the best.  Or assuming you play enough times that eventually you win something or at least break even. 

 

With retirement that's a different thing.  We are talking 30 to 40 years or more of saving/investing.  With college stuff we aren't talking even 20 years (and probably typically much less). 

 

 

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Wow. This thread is so interesting. CC costs $500 a MONTH in Washington? Crazy. Our local CC charges about $50 a unit for those who are not qualifiying for the fee waiver which CA residents can get.

 

Yeah, it sucks being in a high COL area.  The CC my dd attends costs $5580 a year in tuition and fees if going full-time.  So yeah, considering that's about 9 months of school, it comes out to $620/month.   That comes to about $186/credit hour assuming 15 credits/semester for full-time.

 

The flagship is about $14,500 in tuition and fees, and that doesn't include room and board, which wouldn't be optional I guess except for the few people who live in the rural part of the state it's located in...

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Yeah, it sucks being in a high COL area.  The CC my dd attends costs $5580 a year in tuition and fees if going full-time.  So yeah, considering that's about 9 months of school, it comes out to $620/month.   That comes to about $186/credit hour assuming 15 credits/semester for full-time.

 

The flagship is about $14,500 in tuition and fees, and that doesn't include room and board, which wouldn't be optional I guess except for the few people who live in the rural part of the state it's located in...

 

See my link above. For what you are paying at a local CC you can attend FHSU and several other remotely located universities with good online programs. Crazy what you PNW people are paying for a mere CC.

 

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Also whenever having these conversations I do feel like... nobody talks about their own college journey. How did you guys pay for college? Am I on some generational cusp where we were the first ones to take out loans even while working 30 hours a week during school and 80 over summers? I remember all this stuff happening to ME. I'll never forget literally drooling looking at the vegetarian chili... my professor bought it for me! I was so hungry.

 

So I remember well, studying, the walks to the computer lab. I feel like others talk about their kids' experiences but I remember my own. Nothing seems to have changed much since then. People who get scholarships say "you should try scholarships" but I don't remember that working for many people except the Catholics. I mean some people get lucky but as a strategy it doesn't seem wise.

 

I did a couple of years at the community college, which in California at that point (early 1980s) was very cheap. I then took a life detour and walked away from school for two years. After that, I went to a small, private LAC for a year, financed partly through need-based scholarships (because by that point I was considered independent and broke), partly through merit scholarships and partly (too big a part) through loans. I lived at home. The following year, I moved to a different city and transferred to the large, state university. I worked part-time on campus, lived at home, got Pell grants and some other need-based help . . . and took more loans.

 

It is definitely not the college experience or the financial burden I want for my kids.

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