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Nan in Mass

How are YOU managing to pay for college?

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That presumes a family was ever in a position to buy a home in the first place.

Yup. And doesn't have to move frequently. And can manage the payments on a shorter mortgage. And doesn't have to remortgage to have to pay medical or legal expenses. And doesn't have deaths or divorses. And isn't foreclosed on during a layoff. And ... It probably depends on interest rates, too. And economic downturns. And the spacing of your children. And buying the house at least 15 years before college. But for us, it turned out to be a very simple, doable, flexible way to deal with the problem of saving for college. One that we had never heard of until our neighbors happened to mention that they were rotten at saving and so were doing this instead. They were the ones that mentioned the extra mortgage payment every year. We can save if we need to but at the time, we didn't have much to save. This seemed much more doable. It wasn't enough to pay the whole thing, but it is a substantial part of what we have cobbled together, it didn't require committing to any particular college, we didn't lose it when stocks fell, and it felt safe.

 

The other big thing we are doing is letting our boys live at home after they have graduated in order to allow them to pay off their loans more quickly. This isn,t something that will work for everyone either, of course, but if you can manage it, it sure helps.

 

Just in case it helps someone else...

 

Nan

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We have savings and a relatively high income, but our EFC is astronomical. Our DD's college fund covers almost 3 years at her state school, including room and board, but just over one year of her Profile EFC. We would have other assets to cover her EFC for maybe 3 years total?  And during that time, be able to cut expenses to afford the fourth?

 

But, I have a hard time with spending so hard on the first kid to go to college
 

1. It's not right to give kid #1 far more college money than kid #2, and hope that the fact that your assets are gone means kid #2 will get more aid.

2. It's not right to start freshman year not sure how you're going to pay for senior year.

3. Neither DD is likely to be completely financially independent after undergrad. DD#1 is an art major, who will need time to find her way in the world of paid employment. DD#2 is a science nerd, probably off to grad school, and may need some additional support to help fund her cost of living above a graduate stipend. At any rate, graduating with a lot of loans does not seem wise for either of them.

 

DD#1, an art major with good test scores interested in liberal arts schools, is really a perfect fit for looking for merit scholarships and has applied to two schools with a reputation for being generous. We have heard back from one, with a merit scholarship that brings the price in line with what we think we can afford. The other is still pending. She has been accepted to a school in our state system, also very affordable. Her fourth school is a financial reach: because they are a "hot" school, their maximum merit scholarship is lower while their cost of attendance is higher. We will just have to see what the final numbers turn out to be.

 

DD#2 (currently a sophomore) is a science major, in a niche field that isn't necessarily offered at every university. Making it affordable by curating a college list with merit aid in mind is not as simple. For example, she'd be great for a particular Ivy League school that is strong in her field, but I don't know if we should bother to apply: They don't give merit aid and we aren't willing to spend like our EFC says we should. Similarly for some of the large out-of-state research universities (a) There may not be much money for out-of-state kids (b) the research opportunities may be concentrated on their grad students. She's also the "quiet type," so finding a good fit is also important. Far away and at a huge school might be too much. We are definitely going to have to do a careful job of building a list, and probably have to cast a wider net than we did with her sister. It's going to be complicated.

 

It feels odd - we are willing to spend what seems like quite a bit of money on our kids' educations, but the price tags are even higher than that, and the way the formulas work, we supposedly can "afford" either the sticker price or close to it. The reason we have assets is that we are generally conservative with our money - and the EFC formulas say, "thanks for saving, now blow all of it on sending your kids to college!" Ouch!

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 she'd be great for a particular Ivy League school that is strong in her field, but I don't know if we should bother to apply: 

 

Just be certain to run the NPC on that school's website rather than go with your generic EFC.  Some of these top schools have their own formulas and can be far more generous than one expects.

 

If their NPC says "unaffordable," then it likely is unfortunately.

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That presumes a family was ever in a position to buy a home in the first place.

True, but we were asked for ways each individual family has worked out paying for college.

 

Obviously, not all ways will work for all families, we all need to realize we're just making a list of possibilities here.

 

Some saved, some bought houses, some got merit aid, some went ROTC...

It's interesting to see all the ways people are making it work.

 

Thanks for sharing, everyone!

Edited by Hilltopmom
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1. For all employed years, be in between the top 20th and 5th percentiles for our family size and age.

2. Don't get sick. Don't get sick. Don't get sick. Please nobody get sick.

3. Lose a house, but don't go bankrupt so at least maintain good credit.

4. Peace Corps, ROTC, or military contract for college, except military is concerning due to the health issues that can come with it.

5. Kids work. (This should allow them, if they work part time, to pay for about 50% of their food and housing costs if they rent rooms, stay off campus, etc. It would not touch tuition or food--our calculation would be, if you are working part-time at $15/hr, then you can pay for room and utilities, not even food, that's pre-taxes but hopefully they wouldn't owe tax, and forget about tuition--if they work 80 hour weeks like I did back in the 90s, they might be able to pay for one quarter every year in savings).

6. Save 100% of child support for 10 years in addition to the $6,000 in savings from when the kids were little, pre-recession.

7. If there is another recession, I am just going to smack somebody, I swear. No more recessions. Can that be in the plan? Only one major recession per young lifetime, please, thank you.

8. We are buying a home big enough for all of us, so they can then live at home while going to college (we have a number of colleges in Seattle) OR we can rent out rooms to then offset the mortgage.

 

Don't get sick and earn a lot of money and not another downturn is a huge part of this plan. I'm not really sure that would be us "managing" as it would be fate.

 

We would have LOVED not to have had to sell homes during the recession after divorce when prices were lower. Or just... not married people who left, so we didn't have to sell and could be halfway to paying off our mortgages by now. Instead we are starting a new at the age of 40, with a kid who's about to start college in just three years. She will get the short end of the stick but luckily she wants to be a nurse so there is potential there.

 

This is only possible because we are healthy and both work and our kids are doing well in public schools. We are so incredibly grateful for that. 

 

If we were poor, the plan would be loans, which are going to be harder and harder to get. I don't know what the alternative would be. Tuition keeps rising. At least the minimum wage was raised a bit, but it's not easy to work two jobs any more with so many older people looking for a second career behind the counter. I know both the youth and the old feel they are getting the short end of the stick... and they are!

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Mine are little, but are Canadian citizens. Unless they get massive aid, they will go to school in Canada.

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After reading all the other comments, I had to add two myself.

 

First, ds is 2E, gifted with multiple LDs, anxiety, etc. He is at a small LAC because it is the only place he would have a chance at being successful. A state U would have been a disaster for him. We pay more for his education because it is the only way he can get one. I totally relate to those who have said similar things.

 

Second, I have to agree to the suggestion to pay off the mortgage if at all possible. We bought our house with a 15 yr mortgage and paid it off early. Freeing up that money made it easier to save for college, it also makes it easier to pay for college. We don't have free dual credit here and we paid for both kids to take DE classes while in high school and will pay some more for ds's later year(s) of college. We also pay books and expenses out of pocket. None of that has added up to what our mortgage payments used to be. I realize this isn't an option for everyone, but when it is possible, it does really help.

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The dual enrollment program for DD1 is in covers tuition, books, computer, test fees, and 4-year college application fees. When she graduates from high school, she will have an AA degree. As she is young and bent on a Theater degree, we are encouraging her to double major so as to diversify her options and take at least 3 years to graduate. We have a 529 which will cover most if not all of room and board and books. My brother-in-law has, since she was born, been also contributing to a 529 in her name. Though we don't know how much it is, it will definitely help. Her ACT was high enough that she should get significant merit scholarships, full tuition at an LAC would be nice. We also opted out of private high schools to home school which is saving us $55 thousand. Though we did not save that money, not being stretched now we will make it easier to cover additional 4-year college expenses out of cash flow. Finally, my parents have set the education of their grandkids as a priority. They are committed to giving each grandchild a nice sum post-graduation to go towards paying off their loans. There are still a lot of variables, but we are hopeful that we will be able to cover expenses without DD having significant loan post graduation.

 

Financially, we have similar amounts of money saved for our younger two. DD2 is planning on enrolling in the same dual enrollment program. We have to wait and see how she does on the ACT. However, since her Compass scores were similar or a little better than her sisters, I am hoping for similar ACT scores. DS (12) is not sure he wants to follow his sisters' foot steps. I am also unsure whether he will test as well as his sisters. As he is definitely headed in in a STEM route, a public university may fit him just right.

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The Scottish government provides interest-free loans to students, which only need to be repaid when the student's salary reaches a threshold, and which are forgiven after 35 years.

I'm moving to Scotland.

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I've told our story before here. Good income, but horrific bills. Don't qualify for need-based. Primary breadwinner likely will retire early this year. Relative who saved for our kids' college didn't set it up right, so my sibling got it all. 

 

But the good side? I make enough working to keep us comfortable long-term. Oldest decided to go to the local community college on merit aid both to explore majors and so he wouldn't have to take out loans. He loves it there, and I love having him around. He's excelling and is on track to transfer to a well-known school. Next one wants to do the same.

 

Yup. Life is good.

Edited by G5052
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We poured every dime into educating them to the point that they could get into selective schools which meet full financial need. Back up plan is full ride at local non-selective schools. We didn't save money for them, but dh worked hard for advanced degrees and promotions so that we would be better able to pay what we needed to.

 

Dd1 got into a selective private school which expects little money because of our EFC. She works each summer to raise half that money, and we pay the rest on a monthly payment plan.

 

Dd2 currently has a full-ride to dh's alma mater, a local university with a good engineering program if not much else. Hopefully she will get a better option in the next few weeks.

 

We made a lot of sacrifices to get them there, but it's working out so far. I plan to put money aside for my grandchildren. My mother put a bit aside for my dc when they were little, and it tripled. That was enough for application fees and a deposit.

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Our first is just heading off to college in fall 2016 so we are just figuring this out.  We have a decent income but dh just now started to make this much money while we have had periods of unemployment in the past we are still recovering from.  Our EFC is about double what we are comfortable with.  Our plan is to scrape together enough to get him through including:

 

1) merit aid- this meant strong high school record and some ACT prep.  It also meant hours and hours and hours of a parent (me) scouring college web sites, search engines, common data sets, etc. to identify schools that would give merit aid guaranteed based on his stats.

2) small amount of savings- this is just a bit we put away here and there.  Probably total is only enough to pay for books for four years.

3) taking advantage of dual enrollment as a high school student.  Our state has a grant that pays for a couple de classes each semester but our local four year private school offers very affordable de.  Just $100 per credit hour.  Much cheaper than taking as an undergrad.

4)pay as we go.  Ds hasn't exactly been inexpensive as a high school student.  Online classes, de, sports and extra curriculars.  Surely we can pay something for college based on what we have paid to keep him afloat as a high school student.

5) he will work- he hasn't been able to yet but we will expect him to have a summer job and some sort of job for pocket money on campus

6) student loans- only the federal loans that are capped at what to us is a reasonable amount

 

So, we will be piecing it together and expect to be okay based on all these items coming together. He will be able to attend a four year university that will be a good fit for him and he is excited about.  It won't be free.  He might have been able to get close to free but he would have compromised alot of his wants. 

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I'm moving to Scotland.

Got any links to Scotland?  You'd have to establish residence....

 

The debt forgiveness was established so that graduates would not be discouraged from going into low-paying, socially-useful professions (social work, nursing, etc.) by the need to pay off fees before retirement. 

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1) merit aid- this meant strong high school record and some ACT prep. It also meant hours and hours and hours of a parent (me) scouring college web sites, search engines, common data sets, etc. to identify schools that would give merit aid guaranteed based on his stats.

 

Oh my word, yes!

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DD#2 (currently a sophomore) is a science major, in a niche field that isn't necessarily offered at every university. Making it affordable by curating a college list with merit aid in mind is not as simple. For example, she'd be great for a particular Ivy League school that is strong in her field, but I don't know if we should bother to apply: They don't give merit aid and we aren't willing to spend like our EFC says we should. Similarly for some of the large out-of-state research universities (a) There may not be much money for out-of-state kids (b) the research opportunities may be concentrated on their grad students. She's also the "quiet type," so finding a good fit is also important. Far away and at a huge school might be too much. We are definitely going to have to do a careful job of building a list, and probably have to cast a wider net than we did with her sister. It's going to be complicated.

!

This is similar to the problem we have been facing with our 11th grader. She wants to major in Russian and French. Only 2 instate universities offer Russian as a major. However their graduation goals for their students is mid-intermediate language proficiency. She should graduate from high school at a low-int level in Russian and was already mid-int in French at the beginning of 11th grade. One French dept we visited cam right out and told her that they had nothing to offer her. (Sigh)

 

For us, it is not worth applying to school that only offer need-based aid. We don't qualify for enough to make them work for our budget. It really means hours of searching for different options. We have found some universities that give OOS tuition waivers for certain test scores, even if they are not full-tuition. If the in-state tuition is $6000/ yr, than those schools are far cheaper for us than need-based only schools.

 

If our dd is a NMSF, that opens another list of opportunities. Since your dd is only a sophomore doing serious prep for the PSAT might be a good idea.

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For us, it is not worth applying to school that only offer need-based aid. We don't qualify for enough to make them work for our budget. It really means hours of searching for different options. We have found some universities that give OOS tuition waivers for certain test scores, even if they are not full-tuition. If the in-state tuition is $6000/ yr, than those schools are far cheaper for us than need-based only schools.

 

I would add that my senior DDs merit scholarship (just one so far, we got apps in late) came from a school that does not publish a chart of test score or NMSF status to money. We just had to apply and take our chances. If you find a school that gives merit aid that has the academic opportunities you need, don't necessarily scratch it off the list just because you won't know the price in advance.

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I would add that my senior DDs merit scholarship (just one so far, we got apps in late) came from a school that does not publish a chart of test score or NMSF status to money. We just had to apply and take our chances. If you find a school that gives merit aid that has the academic opportunities you need, don't necessarily scratch it off the list just because you won't know the price in advance.

That is different from schools that do not give merit aid and only need-based aid. There are a lot of schools that do not publish their merit info. Spending time reading sites like CC and you can start to gauge some of the criteria.
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It will entirely depend on what they choose.

 

So far, oldest is choosing a 2 year program in a trade/tech program at the CC.  It is free tuition this year due to dual enrollment (still $350 for fees for 3 classes).

 

Next year it will cost $78 per credit hour (he likes 9 hours per semester due to his learning issues and that is fine with us.)  So tuition will be $1404 per year and about $700 in fees (lab fees for his program run $21 per credit hour but there are no books and then there are other college fees.)  So, under $2000 for the year.

 

Middle son is strongly looking at an early college program which will save us 2 years of tuition!  :hurray:   After that, he is looking at a state school although he would prob. love a small private school, which we may be able to afford better if he can get half of college free.

 

Youngest, no idea.

 

Here is the bottom line:

 

We have told our boys we will provide a max $10K per year for 4 years for college.  That is enough to cover the local four year college (which is rated pretty well actually!) and live at home.  It even provides fees, books, and transportation.  Anything above that amount, they will have to cover the difference.  

 

1. We feel this is more than fair

2. We feel this is what we can comfortably offer without needing to affect retirement, etc...

 

 

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We bought 2 prepaid tuition years for each of our kids when the were little through a 529. We figured that we could pay as we went for the first 2 years of community college for each child and then they could transfer to a local university and use the 529 accounts. Now, I regret not saving more. I never went away to college, but just commuted, and I didn't think it would be important for my kids to. After being homeschooled their whole lives, I'd like them to be able to go away. My dd is a very strong student, so I'm hoping she will get merit scholarship money so that we can use all 4 years of the prepaid tuition on my son. The rest will have to come from loans. Grandparents may help some and I'm willing to go back to work when they go to college to help pay for school.

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We have three kids.

 

#1, '13 grad:  1.transferred my husband's GI Bill, 2.small amount of savings (she used a good portion of it for dual enrollment senior year, but all those credits did transfer), 3. small amount of merit, 4. small loan. She chose an out of state public that doesn't offer much merit to out-of-state students, and the GI Bill only covers in-state tuition, so our portion is significant. She gets housing money though, so that helps. I messed up by not paying attention when she was choosing colleges to which to apply. We could have definitely done better as far as the coverage of the GI Bill had I been overseeing things.

 

#2, '16 grad:  1. She's a great student and test-taker, so we were counting on merit for her. It seems to have worked according to plan.She has not finalized her college choice yet. She has earned significant amounts of merit at a few schools, and acceptance to an Ivy that offers exceptionally generous need-based aid (we don't typically qualify for more than the basic student loan most places). 2. Small amount of savings, and will have more than her older sister had left post-high school. 3. If necessary, small loan.

 

#3, '22 grad:  Eh, we'll just marry her off ;-) Kidding. Her savings should be larger than both her sisters by the time her grad year rolls around, and hopefully we will have a bit more freedom to help out with the other two out of school. Honestly not sure how she will do as far as merit. She's smart, but not the obsessive student that #2 is. I could see her being pretty happy going to our in-state public.

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I hope this is an encouraging thread for parents of younger kids.  It should be!  I distinctly remember looking up the OOS costs at my Big State U alma mater when my oldest was a baby and being blown away by the total cost of attendance.  It was a huge shock to me to see what happened to college costs in the not-that-many years since I'd graduated, after paying 100% of my own cost of attendance with scholarships, part-time work and a Pell grant.  The cost of college was something I've kept in the back of my mind for all of these years, and it has influenced where we've lived, how we've managed our finances, the expectations we've tried to instill in our children, how we've educated them and a host of other decisions we've made over the years.  It even influences decisions we are making about retirement--as much as my husband wants to retire early, we're about to embark on ten straight years of having at least one kid in college (so suck it up, Cream Puff, to invoke our unofficial family motto).  I expect that a lot of younger families can pull something useful out of these stories.

Edited by plansrme
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I envy those with free or reduced cc/DE options too - not to mention lower cost top of the line state schools. PA has some terrific schools with Pitt and Penn St, but they generally aren't low cost even for residents (Pitt's offer came in 2nd lowest for middle son, but he had high stats).

 

It continues. If middle son ends up at Pitt for med school, their current costs (even for residents - $55,932) are more than private places like Mayo ($49,900) and Johns Hopkins ($53,804).

 

I'll admit I don't get it. Those of you who live in TX, you win with med school costs (for residents). Lots of choices too.

 

https://services.aamc.org/tsfreports/report.cfm?select_control=PRI&year_of_study=2016

We do not have what I would call robust DE and our cc's are pretty awful. We pay $350 per credit hour for DE courses at University of MI Flint. Many kids in Genesee County get a huge disfount, but we are outside the county so have to pay full freight as a part time student.

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This thread has been VERY helpful.  Thanks so much for starting it, Nan, and thanks to all the people who posted.

 

We have only one kid and he's a few years away from college.  I decided against a 529 and prepaid tuition because DS is the only one who can use the money, and it's too soon to know for sure what he'll decide to do and where he'll go.

 

We have been extremely fortunate - no major illnesses, unemployment, etc. like some other posters are facing - so we will likely have a very high EFC.  We live frugally and I have followed the "deferred maintenance" plan on our house (read: letting it fall down around our ears).  As a result, we have what many would consider a very healthy savings account.

 

I have always told DS, though, that I will expect him to contribute some amount to his education.  I have no fixed number in mind, but it is important that he have "skin in the game."  I want him to work while in school, too, though I wouldn't expect that to be more than pocket money.  It is also important to me that he go straight to a 4-yr school instead of CC & transfer, so I am willing to pay more than I would otherwise.

 

Essentially, we just have to wait and see what hand we're dealt admissions-wise and money-wise and then figure out the specifics.

 

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It feels odd - we are willing to spend what seems like quite a bit of money on our kids' educations, but the price tags are even higher than that, and the way the formulas work, we supposedly can "afford" either the sticker price or close to it. The reason we have assets is that we are generally conservative with our money - and the EFC formulas say, "thanks for saving, now blow all of it on sending your kids to college!" Ouch!

 

The formulas are really messed up IMHO for not taking into consideration regional differences in cost-of-living. It shouldn't be a possibility for us to move, take a pay cut but wind up with greater purchasing power due to a much lower COL, and get rewarded for it with a much lower EFC. Gaming the fin aid system like this seems very unfair, though I'm not going to put principles ahead of our pocketbook when it comes to affording college for my own kids.

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7. If there is another recession, I am just going to smack somebody, I swear. No more recessions. Can that be in the plan? Only one major recession per young lifetime, please, thank you.

 

Seriously! It has basically taken close to a full decade to recover from the last one (and some regions still haven't).

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We have a mix of savings in college funding accounts, deferred retirement age for DH, current income/savings, and DD taking out the small student loan amounts allowed by the government so she has some skin in the game.  We planned for local (excellent) state universities in our financial calculations, and DH's unemployment period slowed our savings somewhat, but additionally DD is attending a far better fitting out of state private LAC, so the costs are quite a bit higher than we had offered/planned to cover.  But she also won the best merit scholarship they offer, and also has a specialty major available there that is quite unusual, so we stepped up our commitment because this was such a good fit for her.  Having her have some skin in the game but not a staggering amount has helped her commitment to her education, more than I was anticipating, so I'm really glad that we did that.

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Seriously! It has basically taken close to a full decade to recover from the last one (and some regions still haven't).

We still have an unemployment rate in the tri-county area of 15%, and tons of empty houses and store fronts.

 

Not much recovery though the unemployment rate at it's worst was 22%.

 

Really, it was a regional depression so another recession for the rest of the country would pretty much bury it.

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We pay out of current income. Our oldest has finished college and our middle daughter is a freshman. Our girls take basic federal loans, contribute from savings and employment, and both received institutional scholarships and grant aid as well as outside renewable scholarships. Oldest dd also received tuition reimbursement from her employer of about $2,000 per year. No private loans, home equity, etc. I work part-time. My earnings and no mortgage and car payments helps. Our youngest may or may not go to college. If she does, she'll start at our community college. 

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Mine are little, but are Canadian citizens. Unless they get massive aid, they will go to school in Canada.

 

My nephews, who have grown up overseas, both selected Canadian for their primary citizenship so as to take advantage of college tuition benefits. They grew up speaking English and French and have done high school in Spain....but the Canadian universities made them take the TESOL test as if they were non-english speakers and had to prove proficiency. They've both found Canadian community college to be a great first step back into north american culture.

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DD #1 has received scholarships to cover all of her tuition and books to our state u and a bit more.  She lives at home, commutes, and works hard at school.  We pay her cost of living expenses.

 

DS #2 - is a junior.  He is taking classes via dual enrollment currently.  By the time he goes into college he will have 40+ credits, although very few will be "useful" because he plans on going into engineering -very little gen ed.  However, we're hoping the college gpa will help his scholarship $$ and he will *not* be considered a transfer student.  He will also go to our state u.  His test scores so far are very promising so we hope he will come out as well as his sister???  Or close?

 

The rest are waiting in the wings.  We'll see.  Right now, living within commute distance of our state flagship seems like a good planning, even if it wasn't. :D

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Right now, living within commute distance of our state flagship seems like a good planning, even if it wasn't. :D

 

We actually took this into account when looking for houses. Then when we almost had to move, we decided that staying had to be a priority for that and other reasons.

 

Ours is more of an "upper middle, name brand," but that's fine for our purposes. The business school that my oldest will transfer to is in the top 25, and it's one of the few in our state that has the concentration my #2 is thinking about.

Edited by G5052
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We actually took this into account when looking for houses. Then when we almost had to move, we decided that staying had to be a priority for that and other reasons.

 

Ours is more of an "upper middle, name brand," but that's fine for our purposes. The business school that my oldest will transfer to is in the top 25, and it's one of the few in our state that has the concentration my #2 is thinking about.

 

Yes, we moved to our current town specifically for the flagship university and community college. We will be here another 8 years for the same reasons. Privately, my dh and I are counting down the years until we can move to an area where we would both much rather live.

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Just wanted to add a couple of other things that help free up a few dollars here and there:

 

1. When the kid goes to college, what you were paying for swim/gymnastics/dance often also goes away. If you have a kid in an expensive activity, this is like getting a raise.

2. It can be helpful to encourage your child to acquire a skill that will translate to flexible part-time work, either during the school year or summers. One of my daughters has picked up several math tutoring clients; another has taught swim lessons. Both of these pay substantially more than minimum wage. Umpiring kid sports, coaching, teaching ballet--I have seen college kids make good money doing all of these as well.

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Just wanted to add a couple of other things that help free up a few dollars here and there:

 

1. When the kid goes to college, what you were paying for swim/gymnastics/dance often also goes away. If you have a kid in an expensive activity, this is like getting a raise.

2. It can be helpful to encourage your child to acquire a skill that will translate to flexible part-time work, either during the school year or summers. One of my daughters has picked up several math tutoring clients; another has taught swim lessons. Both of these pay substantially more than minimum wage. Umpiring kid sports, coaching, teaching ballet--I have seen college kids make good money doing all of these as well.

 

I tried to get Hobbes to keep going with the harp: there is decent Saturday money to be made by a clean-cut kid who can play the harp at weddings.  Calvin makes a bit of money playing bass guitar at college events: his jazz band is hired by the college to play at garden parties, etc.

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Life guard, EMT, rock wall attendent all require some certification but then can be done part time by a college student. Mine have done house projects over break for people ad well, usually working with a brother or uncle who got the job - roofs, decks, cabinets, plumbing, etc. those jobs are nice because they go all daylight hours for a short period of time and fit into a break. Petsitting during holidays is another one.

 

Nan

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Along those lines- I worked as a phlebotomist to put myself through undergrad, the pay was great, the hours not so much, but by doing a split shift, I could work 5-8AM, then go to classes, then go back to work again in the evening, or full shifts on the weekends & overtime on holidays.

 

I also took full time jobs on campus over the summers for free room & board plus pay- admissions, incoming freshman programs, conference staff are often full time student positions over the summer.

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My oldest has worked construction/finish carpentry and as a bike mechanic. He hasn't lacked for well paid work. Also, it made him stand out on college applications and scholarships. There was a.video floating around recently of an admissions officer of a selective East coast school talking about letters of recommendation, and she mentions that any kind of paid employment for high school students stands out because it is unusual. So, you parents who can't afford the expensive robotics camps, take heart. There are other ways to build the skills and work ethic.

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My senior earned a lot of scholarships, bless the child!  Her intended school will cost us less for room, board, and tuition than tuition at the local Catholic high school - not that she ever went there, I just enjoy making the comparison. 

 

She isn't going for a major that is only available at a few schools, so that helps. She did like the idea of linguistics as a possible or second major, but not enough to pay $10,000 or more per year to get it. She knows that saving money on undergrad makes it likely that we will be able to help with grad school or just launching in general. 

 

My second dd should get substantial aid as well, not necessarily as much as her sister but enough to keep it in our affordable range.

 

We have always saved, so if they didn't get aid we would have done a combo of savings, loans, and tuition payment plans. 

 

There is a rough amount we are willing to commit. If we need or want loans within that amount, we will pay them back if they are reasonable about choosing a school - meaning that they don't necessarily have to go with the cheapest school, but we aren't spending an extra $5000 per year just because school A has a slightly better rec center than school B. 

 

No Parent Plus loans, bc it would have to be a pricier school for us to need them, and they are not that interested in stuff that makes good money, lol. 

 

They also know that we are paying for an education instead of a wedding! 

 

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It's looking highly unlikely my DD will go to college. She might go to community college, which we will have to find some way to pay for out of pocket because I don't want her saddled with loans. Probably she'll have to go part time and work. That's what my stepson who's graduated high school is doing. DS it's too soon to tell, but we will likely put the military in front of him as a solid option if he continues to be healthy as he grows.

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I have no college savings for my only child age 12.5. I am working hard on paying my mortage off and fingers crossed, should be paid off by the time she graduates from high school. I will then pay form my income towards any college cost that (hopefully merit) does not cover. if I pay my home off then I will be able to contribute appox 18-20 per year. Also have 20,000 in a CD for a college car or to go towards cost.

 

If not enough merit money comes in (will have too high EFC) then daughter can live at home and attend Texas Tech. If that  happens I should be able to cover the cost of tution/fees books.

 

 

What I will not sacrifice :

 

 I am turning 50 this year and I max contribute to retirement including the catch up,

I will not pull out equity from my home. 

I will not draw from my emergency savings plan. 

I am single and I am trying very hard to make my future secure.

I believe my daughter can bloom wherever she is planted and state schools are perfectly fine for us.

 

 

Edited by VANURSEPRAC
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ITold our kids that our contribution to college is a fabulous high school education. They can apply for scholarships.

 

So far, with merit scholarshps my oldest is 80% funded at a local school and she will live at home, commuting to class. Also, she has a part time job that will continue as long as she wants it. It pays well and will fund her fuel, car, and insurance.

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My husband and I made a decision when our children were young, THEY would pay for their schooling

 

Our oldest is doing online Bible school , is married, working full time w/ CRU, wife and 2 kids.

Our 2nd just graduated w/ his accounting degree, worked full time, took him 6 years but doable, and just finished his CPA exams and passed!

Our 3rd, a daughter, borrowed money w/ us cosigning, for beauty school, lived at home a year after graduating, and paid it off.

 

Our 2nd, said he was and would do it himself again, doesn't think parents should pay, it watched students waste away their college, because they didn't have to work for it.

 

just my 2 cents!  some of the above applied for grands, scholarships etc. and were awarded some, but not much $

 

our 4th child is now attending Jr. college, working and paying for it herself, lives at home to do so.

 

Kim

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We also elected to concentrate on retirement instead of college saving for 5 kids.

Ds1 had good scores. I spent hours finding schools he might like and get enoug merit aid to go. He is also taking out some loans. But they will be reasonable and he has a place with us to work and pay them off if he wants. We are taking money out of savings as we go. His senior year will be a stretch, but okay, I think.

Dd1-athletic schloarship. We will be getting a slight raise when she leaves (not paying for her training, suits, and travel).

 

Ds2-unless he scores much higher than I think he will, he will be headed to cc and transfer or a WUE school that we can afford.

 

Dd2 is planning on an athletic scholarship.

 

Ds3 is hoping for an athletic scholarship (definitely harder to get for boys) and I will be working somewhere by then and my pennies will go to tuition payments.

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I don't think I have anything new to add, but I will list how we are paying for two boys in college at the same time:

 

-- both boys attend public universities (tuition is $6k/yr and $13k/yr); both are in-state tuition rates, since my son who is out-of-state got residency (note: few states allow this!)

 

-- merit-based and need-based scholarships. The OOS boy qualified for a two-year full-tuition scholarship (that was sweet! :) ); the son at the UC qualified for a reasonably sized need-based grant when he lived in the dorms (which is $$$). Both have also received other small scholarships; every little bit helps!

 

-- 529 savings accounts (we started paying in when the boys were little, and added "extra" money when it came our way; it's not a huge amount, but since their tuitions are reasonable, the savings make a good dent)

 

-- both boys have jobs, both summer and during the school year. The son at the more expensive (UC) school qualified for work-study and is currently a TA (which pays well!); he will earn a LOT of money at his Silicon Valley internship this summer (way over the cost of tuition)

 

-- subsidized loans (the son at the more-expensive school was offered subsidized loans, which he took; we plan to pay them off for him when he graduates -- by then our house should be paid off. BTW we were only able to purchase a house by using, for the down payment, my husband's retirement savings when he left his overseas job, which meant we started our retirement savings in our mid-30s; I agree in theory that retirement > college, but once the boys are out of college we will contribute more to our retirement funds ...)

 

-- tax credit for tuition (American Opportunity Tax Credit) -- this really helps :)

 

-- I got a job myself once I had an empty nest, but I only want to work part-part-time so we have time to travel, take classes, etc. I'm not sure it is worth the loss of various tax credits (complicated situation).

 

 

 

ETA: forgot the scholarships (duh!)

Edited by Laura in CA

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I am still paying back my own student loans. The kids used to have college funds, father-in-law created them for each when they were born. But, we lost him and the funds did not appear. They were there. I suspect mother-in-law (not my husband's biomom) did something. I thought they were 529s. MIL was the executer. My husband had seen the paperwork before we lost FIL so we know they did exist. No clue about how to go about looking for them. I do not even know if they were 529s. But, they did ask for my children's social security numbers at the time. No idea.

 

Meanwhile though, we have saved money, but no where near what we need to save. We have five children. I am sort of hoping to have one more, but doubt it will happen. I have done the financial aid calculators online, assuming I had a child there soon, and they say the first child should qualify for aid. But I hear the aid is not always forth coming. I know we could have the kids live at home and drive to college. And do community college at first. I don't know. 

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We are paying from current income. I work part time and that helps a little. My daughter chose to go to a UC where she was offered an academic scholarship and that also helps some. She also has a summer job. She tried to get an on campus job during the school year but the competition from work study candidates was too strong as many positions are reserved for them. You only qualify for work study if you have demonstrated financial need and we are full pay. As far as retirement savings go, we are definitely behind. My husband was already 40 when we relocated to the US and then the recession hit us hard.

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Thank you so much, everyone! This thread shows a picture that is hard to get from the average statistics reported on the web or ones acquaintances. Or was hard for me to get, anyway. : ) It is interesting to see how the stories vary. And how they don't. Most of us are cobbling together a number of things.

 

Nan

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Add a new but nice wrinkle for us:

 

Dh just got a pay raise, and I have a part-time job for the fall that will work around homeschooling our last ds (a junior for 2016/17), and a grandparent volunteered to drive him to his college physics class three days per week until he turns 16 (autumn birthday boy) which allows me to start work as soon as middle ds is settled in the dorms at WMU. The combined earnings will allow us to pay our EFC without dipping into retirement because WMU has a 0% payment plan for parents. We can start in July (will be a little tight until I begin work, but doable) and have until Jan. 5 to get the first semester paid for, and then start on the next. As long as they receive their payments on time, ds can remain in school. This in addition to his merit scholarship and lab job of 10 hours per week that he was offered for more than minimum wage will allow him to go to school only with federally backed $5500.00 loan each year, and for the career he is going into, he will not have a problem paying that $22,000 back.

 

That payment plan was one of things that put us over the top for WMU. U of Rochester was pretty generous with merit aid, but there was a gap between our EFC and what was left on the bill. It made them a bit more expensive, and no payment plan so either loaning from 401K or parent plus loans or something. He is contacting U of Rochester this week to tell them he will not be able to attend, and will follow up with a letter as he did at NMU, U of MI, and U of Wisconsin.

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We began saving for college when he was six months old. We contributed a set amount each month, raising the amount contributed on a periodic basis. Occasionally a bonus payment would go in there as well. When stock matured (my husband sometimes receives stock as part of his compensation package) over the past couple of years we would sell it and put the funds in the college account. If he stays at his current university, we will have enough to get through five years of his degree. We are actually encouraging him too take a lower load for a wide number of reasons.

We are committed to paying tuition, fees and room and board. He pays for incidental expenses (laundry, school supplies, etc.) and he also pays his social life.

Hopefully he will get a job this summer. We want to encourage him to have money saved for when he finishes his education - rent, utilities, car maintainable, car insurance, renters insurance, buying his workday wardrobe, furniture (we will pass some things down, but he will be on his own for quite a bit of it). We shall see how it goes!

Edited by TechWife
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