Jump to content

Menu

Paying for College


Recommended Posts

Ds is a junior this year. For the past few years, he has said that he wants to enlist in the military directly after high school and then pursue college. He is (fairly) academically minded and while I would prefer him to not enlist (simply because I’m his mom!) I was supporting his decision. Now he is considering college after high school and I’m trying to understand how to pay for it. 
 

Unfortunately, we do not have college savings for our kids. We have had many bouts of unemployment over the years, so financially, saving for college just didn’t happen. 
 

Ds currently has a 3.9 and is taking all college prep classes. He is not taking AP courses, but he is taking dual-credit classes. He just took the ACT with zero prep and got a 26. 
 

I loath the idea of saddling ds with a bunch of student loans, but I really don’t know what our options are. Thoughts?

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Of he got a 26 without any prep,  he might be able to get that score up a bit.  There are good scholarships for kids with good scores and grades.   He is probably going to come out with some debt,  but if you keep a frugal mindset and really weigh out your options, I think it can be manageable.   Living at home or living off campus and having a PT job can save money.  

Not sure what his path is, but ROTC might be something to look into.  Also going into the military with a bit of school gets you better rank 😉

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, BusyMom5 said:

Of he got a 26 without any prep,  he might be able to get that score up a bit.  There are good scholarships for kids with good scores and grades.   He is probably going to come out with some debt,  but if you keep a frugal mindset and really weigh out your options, I think it can be manageable.   Living at home or living off campus and having a PT job can save money.  

Not sure what his path is, but ROTC might be something to look into.  Also going into the military with a bit of school gets you better rank 😉

Thank you!

I’m feeling angry at myself for not doing a better job of preparing for this stage in life. Do most kids have to take out loans? Are we the only parents who don’t have money saved?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Nah, lots of parents don't have money saved. 

The first step is to see what you're up against. Is there a local public university? Do you know the cost? Some schools have set scholarships for certain scores and GPAs, some don't. 

Is your signature outdated or is he still 15? 

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

I’m feeling angry at myself for not doing a better job of preparing for this stage in life.

Your son has a very decent GPA and is handling dual credit classes...I'd say you did something right as far as preparing him for this stage in life. I know you meant financially but sometimes what we "bank" as far as college prep isn't always in the form of money.

 

Quote

Do most kids have to take out loans? Are we the only parents who don’t have money saved?

Most parents I know personally do not have money saved. Whether their kids take out loans is hit or miss. So far my older 4 are loan/debt free and they are determined to stay that way. One is going full time at university and has landed oodles of scholarships thanks to her CC career and a beautiful transfer student scholarship. Another is taking 2 classes each semester, paying for those as he goes. Another is working at a place which offers tuition reimbursement. The opportunities for college funding whether it be knocking out classes via dual enrollment/AP/CLEP, tuition reimbursement programs, Honors programs, etc. are amazing!

 

  • Like 5
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

We choose between Community College and a local University because of scholarships and living at home we didn't have to take out loan. However most students have loans. I'm lucky enough to live in a state that has low tuition. If you are low enough income there are grants and work study as well as loans, and scholarships. You want to apply to schools that he's a top student. Then apply to all scholarships possible. I like the book debt free degree and podcast borrowed future. 

 

If he's a junior he may be able to get his associates degree before graduating high school. Hopefully that will save you some money. 

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, Just Kate said:

Ds is a junior this year. For the past few years, he has said that he wants to enlist in the military directly after high school and then pursue college. He is (fairly) academically minded and while I would prefer him to not enlist (simply because I’m his mom!) I was supporting his decision. Now he is considering college after high school and I’m trying to understand how to pay for it. 

Dd enlisted in the Navy as an IT with a 4 year contract last summer and will ship out in June. She'll graduate high school and get her AA through DE in May.

I'd suggest spending some time looking at specific job opportunities in the military. Dd and I concentrated on the Navy because she had her heart set on going to sea. When dd started exploring, she was considering enlisting as a linguist (the rating in the Navy is CTI, you'll need to check the job codes for the other branches). That's a 6 year contract but includes between 9 months and 1.5 years at the Defense Language Institute and gets you an AA if you fulfill some distributional requirements through CLEP, AP or DE credits. The problem for her was that CTIs work onshore at Naval Intelligence Operations Centers or for the NSA and don't necessarily get the chance to sail. That was a deal breaker for her for both the CTI rate and CTN (network protection, a very, very popular rate because it prepares sailors well for cybersecurity jobs). So we went looking for other rates that would suit her academic skills and would involve office work in a clean, air conditioned space aboard a surface vessel. We gave preference to rates that would give her a Top Secret clearance because of the job opportunities that opens up after getting out of the Navy. She considered Intelligence Specialist and then settled on IT.  As the saying goes: Choose your rate, choose your fate!

If you go in with an AA you're automatically an E-3. Depending on your rating's advancement, you could be an E-4 (petty officer or similar non com in other branches) with a year of service. The Navy (and the other branches) will pay for IT certification exams and will provide tuition assistance for part time study once you've been at your duty station for a year. For dd, that means she'll earn somewhere between 1-3 semesters of college credit while she's enlisted and will only need a year to finish up in person. You can use GI bill benefits (tuition and living stipend for 4 academic years) for graduate school, so she won't have to worry about paying for an MBA or MS. In addition, she'll get another 4 years of undergrad or grad tuition paid for at TX public universities for either herself or a child through the Hazelwood Act (this only applies to TX, other states may have a similar deal). If you plan carefully, you can use your military education benefits to set yourself up for life.

There are lots of jobs in the military that are basically office work. They're not necessarily the most appealing to 18 year olds who want an adventure. If you research carefully, you can find something that will soothe your mom worry and fulfill your ds's desire to serve his country. 

If he does decide to join the military, try to get his paper work done early so he can get his preferred job and ship out date. They fill them on a rolling basis and the earlier you sign your contract the more likely you'll get the job you want without having to wait for an opening. The contract is not binding until you actually ship out (although, it's very unlikely another recruiter will talk to you if you decide to drop out of the Delayed Enlistment Program). Also, bonuses vary so you have to keep track of what your branch is offering for your job, ship out date, PT scores and education at any given time. It's easy to look up online. It can be a substantial amount of money.

  • Like 4
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

@Just Kate  Possibly he should go back to "Plan A" which is going into the military first. Let me tell you about a cousin who was much older than me. He passed away in October.  He enlisted in the Marine Corps, twice. The first time I think he was Active Duty and then he was in the Reserves and was activated. He was in combat. 

He then went to university and then to Medical School and became an eminent professional in his medical specialization.

He wrote me, probably earlier this year or a year or 2 ago,, that it would have been nicer, in retrospect, had he gone in as an Officer.  RHIP (Rank Has It's Privaleges).

He was so proud to have been a Marine and that was a big part of his life.  He exercised in a gym until possibly earlier this year.

In the case of my cousin, I suspect that he went to university on the "G.I. Bill".

There are SO many opportunties for education in the military.  Also, some (many?) states have programs where if someone enlists in their National Guard or Air National Guard that they get special benefits which might include (?) free tuition at state universities and pay and being trained in how to do something that might be useful in the civilian job market.

Good luck to your DS!

 

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
44 minutes ago, chiguirre said:

Dd enlisted in the Navy as an IT with a 4 year contract last summer and will ship out in June. She'll graduate high school and get her AA through DE in May.

I'd suggest spending some time looking at specific job opportunities in the military. Dd and I concentrated on the Navy because she had her heart set on going to sea. When dd started exploring, she was considering enlisting as a linguist (the rating in the Navy is CTI, you'll need to check the job codes for the other branches). That's a 6 year contract but includes between 9 months and 1.5 years at the Defense Language Institute and gets you an AA if you fulfill some distributional requirements through CLEP, AP or DE credits. The problem for her was that CTIs work onshore at Naval Intelligence Operations Centers or for the NSA and don't necessarily get the chance to sail. That was a deal breaker for her for both the CTI rate and CTN (network protection, a very, very popular rate because it prepares sailors well for cybersecurity jobs). So we went looking for other rates that would suit her academic skills and would involve office work in a clean, air conditioned space aboard a surface vessel. We gave preference to rates that would give her a Top Secret clearance because of the job opportunities that opens up after getting out of the Navy. She considered Intelligence Specialist and then settled on IT.  As the saying goes: Choose your rate, choose your fate!

If you go in with an AA you're automatically an E-3. Depending on your rating's advancement, you could be an E-4 (petty officer or similar non com in other branches) with a year of service. The Navy (and the other branches) will pay for IT certification exams and will provide tuition assistance for part time study once you've been at your duty station for a year. For dd, that means she'll earn somewhere between 1-3 semesters of college credit while she's enlisted and will only need a year to finish up in person. You can use GI bill benefits (tuition and living stipend for 4 academic years) for graduate school, so she won't have to worry about paying for an MBA or MS. In addition, she'll get another 4 years of undergrad or grad tuition paid for at TX public universities for either herself or a child through the Hazelwood Act (this only applies to TX, other states may have a similar deal). If you plan carefully, you can use your military education benefits to set yourself up for life.

There are lots of jobs in the military that are basically office work. They're not necessarily the most appealing to 18 year olds who want an adventure. If you research carefully, you can find something that will soothe your mom worry and fulfill your ds's desire to serve his country. 

If he does decide to join the military, try to get his paper work done early so he can get his preferred job and ship out date. They fill them on a rolling basis and the earlier you sign your contract the more likely you'll get the job you want without having to wait for an opening. The contract is not binding until you actually ship out (although, it's very unlikely another recruiter will talk to you if you decide to drop out of the Delayed Enlistment Program). Also, bonuses vary so you have to keep track of what your branch is offering for your job, ship out date, PT scores and education at any given time. It's easy to look up online. It can be a substantial amount of money.

All of this. DH followed a similar path. He was guaranteed nuke training which is also high-demand, left boot camp as an E-3, and was an E-4 a year later. He was able to complete his BA and MA using our income and tuition assistance so we split the GI Bill benefits between our kids and only had to save four total years for each. DH would not be thrilled if either of ours enlisted tho because it’s soooooo much easier (for us) and more lucrative to secure an ROTC scholarship and go officer for four years (or a career). Switching from E to O is hard and, as Lanny said, rank absolutely has its privileges.

If we did not have these benefits available, we’d be reliant on student loans like everyone else.

Edited by Sneezyone
  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

We had some money put aside but ended up having them start at the community college. In my state the community colleges are very well thought of and have solid guaranteed admission agreements with competitive four-year schools. My older one got scholarships at the community college that paid most of his tuition. My younger one did not get scholarships, but it was very affordable. 

Then they transferred to a competitive four year that they were commuting to when COVID hit. Both went Guaranteed Admission, one into a very selective field that would have been hard to transfer into without that. 

Then my finances took a nosedive when I became a single parent, but for various reasons I couldn't get need-based aid. My oldest was leaning towards the Army National Guard and decided to join up. They pay nearly all of his tuition, and he made up the rest with his bonus, his Guard pay, and another job.  He's been very happy with the Guard overall and got selected for an elite regional unit with good leadership . FWIW, being in the National Guard is a good resume-building choice because it shows discipline and teamwork. That freed up money for my younger one.

I thought that we might have to borrow for the younger one this fall which wouldn't have been too bad, but I'm able to cover her tuition now. She covers all of her other expenses with a job. 

So we did it with no loans with a combination of community college, commuting to a four-year, and the Army National Guard. I did have some financial resources put aside, but not enough for anything but what we did. 

Edited by G5052
  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites

You are definitely not alone!  My dd is graduating this year.  We had very little college savings but had planned to be able to pay as we went from our normal income.  But dh lost his job back in March and has not found a new one so that plan got altered.  And our FAFSA is based on our pre-job-loss income so dd will not qualify for anything but unsubsidized loans.  Between all of that and Covid, dd changed her college plans significantly and has chosen the local university, at least to start.  She may get merit aid (if she can EVER take the SAT or ACT) but even if she does, she will have to take out loans.  If we have a viable CC option, we would encourage her to do that but since we don't, this is the most economical option for her.  Student loan debt is no fun and I think all students should do what they can to minimize it, but it also is not the end of the world.  I had a great deal as did dh.  We paid it off and moved on.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

In our house paying for college has been a team effort and involved mixing many methods to pay for it.

The biggest has been merit aid from ACT scores. That’s where our kids started was seeing how low they could get it with merit aid. Then there was a combination of small amounts of institutional financial aid, federal student loans, earnings from student employment (summers and part time during school), transferring de credits and parental help. Combining all those things made it possible for my guys to go away to four year schools. 
 

There was no way only one method would have paid. Scholarships weren’t enough. Kids couldn’t earn enough. We couldn’t contribute enough. Loans in that amount would have been a terrible idea. But piecing it all together has been doable.

I know it is unpopular but I think student loans can be worth it sometimes. My oldest has less than $20,000 in federal loans and he had a fantastic college experience and landed a good job. His payments are manageable and he has no regrets. There is a something in between zero debt and six figure debt. Sometimes it feels like it all gets lumped in together and I think student loans can be a good investment. Have to be careful, of course. 

Edited by teachermom2834
  • Like 7
Link to post
Share on other sites

No, you are not the only family to not have college savings.

For many families, it's just not possible to save, what with trying to cover daily living expenses, medical insurance, and saving for retirement. Even if living frugally, if there are more than 1-2 children in the family, it is almost impossible to save enough to cover college costs for all the children.

And even if you had saved, it likely would not be nearly enough to cover 4 years at an average-priced university (now roughly $100,000+ for tuition & fees + room & board + books/supplies + miscellaneous expenses) due to the skyrocketed college costs over the past 20 years. AND, it is typically taking students MORE than 4 years to complete a Bachelor degree, so you're looking at even more than that.

For example, since before DSs were born we were saving for college, and thought we DID save enough. BUT... our DSs graduated in the midst of the sudden skyrocketing of college costs, so that the amount we were able to save and thought would just about carry them through 8 semesters of going to the local university while living at home, would only have *barely* covered 3 semesters of that same option.  😱😭

For that ACT score of 26:
I'd spend a little money on a quality prep class or tutor, and see if you can get that to 28 or higher. While it varies widely by school, an ACT score of 28 is often the lower limit for landing some partial scholarship money. There are NOT a lot of full-tuition--and especially full-ride (all expenses paid)--scholarships out there, so for planning purposes, don't expect more than about a 1/2 tuition scholarship. That sounds great, until you factor in all the other costs (room & board; books & supplies; transportation; miscellaneous expenses), and then you discover that the scholarship covers about 25% of total costs. Which is nice, but if you're looking at $25,000/year for college x 4 years, you're still looking at having to come up with the remaining $75,000+ in costs.

Another key is to look at universities where his ACT score places him in the top 25% of incoming freshman, and preferably in the top 10% -- that makes the student a "big fish in a small pond" and much more likely to land a good scholarship, as the student's score helps to boost the school's statistics. For researching college statistics try College Data. Learn how to wade through all of the school's statistics that the website provides, in order to figure out what type of aid/how much aid the school typically gives out, plus typical incoming freshman test scores, so you can figure out your student's odds of landing a scholarship.

For example, a lot of schools offer merit-based aid (i.e., $$ given on the basis of good grades or other quality)that is ALSO need-based aid (i.e., $$ given on the basis of a family's income & "financial need", which is determined by filling out the FAFSA). So while your student may have the test scores/GPA that are competitive, if your family makes more money than fits the Federal Government's calculations for "financial need", and the merit aid $$ is ALSO need-based... boo-hoo. 😩

For student loans:
Quick general rule of thumb about how much debt is "manageable": TOTAL amount of college loans (for all 4 years) should not exceed 1 year of entry-level salary for the degree field. So if the typical starting salary is $35,000, then that needs to be cap for total college loans, so as to not cripple the student with debt right out of college.

Also: federal student loans are the only manageable ones. (DON'T go with private bank loans -- high interest rates, terrible terms). The best federal student loans are the subsidized loans, which means the loan does not start accruing interest until 6 months after the student leaves college (either stops school or graduates). Federal unsubsidized loans begin accruing interest the moment the student accepts the loan. Either way, there is a maximum total federal student loan amount of $31,000 (dependent students) or $57,500 (independent students).

Because every student is different and because the opportunities available in the student's area are different, you will have to do some research and come up with the option (or combination of options) that best fit this student's specific situation. Below are some quick ideas, plus some good past threads, to help jump start your thinking.

All the BEST as you plan for post-high school! Warmest regards, Lori D.


While still in high school
- credit by exam = if the student is a good self-studier and good test-taker, knock out as many credits as possible with CLEP tests -- maybe as much as 2, 3, or even 4 semesters of college; use the Modern States resources to study, AND get a rebate voucher for the cost of each test
-  dual enrollment = if your local community college is of good quality and their credits are accepted in transfer to 4-year universities; and many areas offer free or reduced-cost tuition for dual enrollment, even further reducing costs -- again, possibly knocking out as much as 2, 3, or even 4 semester of college in advance of high school graduation

Alternative college experience
- don't "go away" to college = live at home and go to the local university to cut out the $12,000/year for room & board
- 2 + 2 plan = 2 years at the local community college that has an articulation agreement with the local or in-state university, then transfer and finish the last 2 years at the university
- tuition free college, such as Berea (students work 15 hours/week on campus to pay for tuition)

Alternative funding options
- work part-time for a company that offers partial tuition reimbursement as a perk (Starbucks and Chipotle, e.g.) -- most require that you've worked for them for 9-12 months before this benefit becomes available -- so maybe start with the company as a 12th grader in prep for college!
- SMART scholarship or other work-for-tuition option -- SMART is through the Dept. of Defense; after graduation you work several years for them as a civilian in return for the scholarship $$; there are business companies that offer this type of funding, too -- you get a salary, plus your time is "paying off" your tuition scholarship -- if you leave before your commitment time is up, you are required to repay the scholarship funds
- all-online college degree -- Lumerit Scholar (formerly College Plus) = through online courses + CLEP testing, earn a degree at home. This is not as big of a savings as it used to be (it's now roughly $25,000+ for a 4-year degree, and NOT eligible for Federal Financial Aid)... BUT, some people by-pass Lumerit and line up their courses + CLEP tests directly with the degree-granting university (such as Thomas Edison, e.g.)
- ASU Starbucks College Achievement Plan -- it looks like a combo of options #1 and #3 in this category -- work for a company that offers tuition reimbursement specifically to ASU's online degree program

Alternatives to 4-year college
- apprenticeship in the trades (electrician, e.g.) = earn while you learn
- 2-year AAS Associate degree = lower school costs, shorter time in school, start right away at a higher paying job (you can even work several years, save lots, and then stop work and go back to college to get the 4-year degree, using saving to pay for it)
- work your way up; some companies are known for on-the-job training and for promoting good workers up the ladder

PAST THREADS
"College Motherlode" is the big pinned thread at the top of the WTM College Board. It was SIX PAGES of links to past threads on all manner of topics about prepping for college. Start reading through threads on financial aid, but also other college prep topics:

College Costs
How much does college cost
Help me understand how to pay for college

How Financial Aid Works
Understanding financial aid (great explanations and info)
I think I need help with guidance counseling, I.e., I’m clueless
Financial Aid vs. Merit Aid? 

Determining what Financial Aid you might get
Financial Aid for those who have kids in college (family income and what can you expect for aid) 
Finding something you can afford (connects topics of financial aid and college search)
Reasons to consider a less selective, less expensive college (big discussion on college search + financial aid + how to fund college)

Scholarships
Scholarships (search process, inside vs outside scholarships; explanation of Financial Aid equation: COA-EFC=Need) 
DS is our first child and is a junior next year: what scholarships should he start pursuing? (search process; types of scholarships; how to look for a college that is a financial match for scholarships/merit aid)
High scholarship earners - which test and at which grade did your high schooler take? (discussion of the specific tests morphed into a financial aid discussion)

Alternatives to fund college / reduce college costs
s/o Cautionary Tale/high college costs — a brainstorm $$ ideas thread!
How are YOU managing to pay for college? (lots of real-life creative ideas)
College as cheap as possible: need advice
College breaking the piggy bank? (how are homeschoolers affording college?)

Edited by Lori D.
  • Like 6
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...
On 11/19/2020 at 1:14 PM, Lori D. said:

Quick general rule of thumb: TOTAL amount of college loans (for all 4 years) should not exceed 1 year of entry-level salary for the degree field. So if the typical starting salary is $35,000, then

I am late, but I have seen this line of thought be harmful for some students.  I would not lock a college freshman into a particular degree path based on the level of debt they are ok taking.  I would really try to limit at federal loans (31K) for any student.  That type of debt is not likely to be forever life limiting regardless of path.  Even if your student is planning on going into engineering and average salary is 100K, they are likely to need to move to a HCOL area to get that.  Suppose they change majors? Suppose they have a crises and need to quit college for a bit.  You will need to cosign for anything over the federal limit anyway.  I've seen those situations ruin a parent/adult child relationship too and I would work hard to try and not get into that situation.  

We know many students who've done well to do the 2 years community college/2 years state school path.  Many live at home to save money.   I especially thinking.  If he is interested in the military, I think that can be a great path for some too.  

  • Like 8
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/28/2020 at 1:03 PM, FuzzyCatz said:

I am late, but I have seen this line of thought be harmful for some students.  I would not lock a college freshman into a particular degree path based on the level of debt they are ok taking.  I would really try to limit at federal loans (31K) for any student.  That type of debt is not likely to be forever life limiting regardless of path.  Even if your student is planning on going into engineering and average salary is 100K, they are likely to need to move to a HCOL area to get that.  Suppose they change majors? Suppose they have a crises and need to quit college for a bit.  You will need to cosign for anything over the federal limit anyway.  I've seen those situations ruin a parent/adult child relationship too and I would work hard to try and not get into that situation.  

We know many students who've done well to do the 2 years community college/2 years state school path.  Many live at home to save money.   I especially thinking.  If he is interested in the military, I think that can be a great path for some too.  

Good to hear other experiences from other parts of the country. 😄 

As I said, it's a very rough rule of thumb to help students not take on too much debt -- NOT advice to lock a student into a degree path. 😉

I was just trying to remind families that there is a reality to debt payback, and it can be devastating and greatly delay a student from marriage/kids in some cases when the starting salary is low, or if the degree doesn't end up panning out into a great career job. That does happen often enough that it's important to consider when taking out loans -- $31K can be crushing for someone to pay back when their salary is $25,000/year and the student is trying to both live on that lower salary AND pay back loans, esp. if living at home for the first year while working is NOT an option.

TOTALLY agree about not going over the Federal student loan amount, and NOT doing parent plus loans or parent co-signing of loans. Amount of student debt absolutely needs to be looked at very carefully on an individual basis...

TOTALLY agree with the 2 + 2 option and living at home as much lower cost option. Our DS#1 is doing that right now -- for the second time (second Bachelor degree). 😄  Just noting -- the in-town 4-year university he is attending STILL costs almost $13,000/year for just tuition & fees. So even that 2+2 option can quickly add up in cost. 😩

Edited by Lori D.
  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

I've just seen a few kids I know locally do a calculation based on being an engineer, a lawyer, etc and then ended up changing paths that really end up in trouble in some cases not even finishing a degree at all.  And I totally agree, you can get yourself 30K into debt working on an undergrad and THAT can be difficult.  Especially if you don't have a pretty clear career path after undergrad or you drop out or are considering grad school.  I just think car loan level is a much safer investment level as a max then house loan level.  

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, FuzzyCatz said:

I've just seen a few kids I know locally do a calculation based on being an engineer, a lawyer, etc and then ended up changing paths that really end up in trouble in some cases not even finishing a degree at all.  And I totally agree, you can get yourself 30K into debt working on an undergrad and THAT can be difficult.  Especially if you don't have a pretty clear career path after undergrad or you drop out or are considering grad school.  I just think car loan level is a much safer investment level as a max then house loan level.  

Absolutely -- getting student loans AND NOT finishing a degree is killing the future and the finances of MANY young adults -- which is often those without a clear career path, as you say. 

That's why I am a big proponent of community college first (if the student has a good one nearby which has credits that transfer), and explore at a (usually) much lower cost. And it's not so hard to either switch from the AA (direct-to-college Associate degree), to an AAS (direct-to-work Associate degree) in the trades or vocational-tech fields. We desperately need people to go into the trades and the lower-level-degree medical fields, rather than buying into the culture-wide idea that "everyone MUST go to a university and get a 4-year degree to get a job"...

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

We didn't/don't have any savings to speak of to help pay for college. Our local state U is one of the least expensive for in state students in the country (thank you, Mitch Daniels!) and we still can only swing half tuition for our kids. And the only reason we can do that much is because we scrimped for the past 10 years to pay the mortgage off early. If we still had a mortgage payment there's no way we could contribute anything for college. I tell my kids we invested in me being home with them for 18 years instead 🙂

They have to use their savings and work to pay for the rest of tuition. We also can't pay for room and board. They can live at home for free and commute or pay for their own off campus apartment. They can also go to the local cc for the first two years to save even more. Oldest DS is in a competitive major that doesn't give much (if any) scholarship money even though he had tip top scores so he's had to work his butt off to earn money to pay for it all. But he's doing it and learning and maturing so much in the process. He says he wouldn't have it any other way because it's helped him seek out a lot of work experience that others in his major don't have. 2nd DS received a merit scholarship from the college to cover his tuition, otherwise he'd be on the same path as oldest DS.

  • Like 6
Link to post
Share on other sites

We also have 2 + 2 agreement in our state, but some of the agreements are only with private universities, not with the state schools. Some of the privates give really good aid to students who come in that way, and some don't. It is definitely worth checking to those agreements as early as possible.

One our older kiddos floundered in a 4 year and finish up with the AS in a higher demand field at the CC that does have some transfer agreements. He went to work for 3 years (doing some credentialing tests during that time so he could move up), and his employer is paying for him to finish up his BS.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, FuzzyCatz said:

I've just seen a few kids I know locally do a calculation based on being an engineer, a lawyer, etc and then ended up changing paths that really end up in trouble in some cases not even finishing a degree at all.  And I totally agree, you can get yourself 30K into debt working on an undergrad and THAT can be difficult.  Especially if you don't have a pretty clear career path after undergrad or you drop out or are considering grad school.  I just think car loan level is a much safer investment level as a max then house loan level.  

Completely their choice, but one of my son's friends graduated with six figures in loans and then wanted to go to law school. Even living at home and taking the train in, it would have been another six figures in loans. Last I heard he was saving up because the parents said that was too much debt for someone who was leaning towards a career in government or politics. 

Our family's estate lawyer borrowed for law school but then lived with her parents while paying her loans off. She said that some people in her firm looked a little askance at that, but it worked for her. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, G5052 said:

Completely their choice, but one of my son's friends graduated with six figures in loans and then wanted to go to law school. Even living at home and taking the train in, it would have been another six figures in loans. Last I heard he was saving up because the parents said that was too much debt for someone who was leaning towards a career in government or politics. 

Our family's estate lawyer borrowed for law school but then lived with her parents while paying her loans off. She said that some people in her firm looked a little askance at that, but it worked for her. 

Weirdly, I know like a dozen people with who graduated law school who are not currently practicing law.  I don't actually know if that is super common.  I do know at least a few of them personally enough to know they regretted the path they took in terms of debt. Not necessarily in terms of going through law school.  I am not saying don't go to law school either.  I just think really understanding commitment level post graduation along with really digging for your most economical options are prudent.   I don't think aging parents prepping for retirement should probably be cosigning for loans in most cases either.  

There was an interesting story on this a few years ago in one of our local papers about a young woman going into over 300K of debt for vet school.  
https://www.startribune.com/debt-swallows-up-students-at-vet-grad-professional-schools/275017651/

Now society needs vets.  We should absolutely as a society be making a path like this MUCH more affordable.  That said, this young woman certainly did not carefully choose her most economical path.  I do feel a bit sorry for her because it doesn't sound like she had much guidance along the way.   

Anyway, obviously everyone will have a different opinion and knows their own situation best.  But I know many more people who regret super high debt levels than don't.  You may have a great time at college but it's extremely life limiting afterwards.  In some cases for many many years.  I actually think the federal limits for undergrad are a decent guideline.  

  • Like 1
  • Sad 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Sticking to federal loans is a decent guideline, I think. That keeps the parents from cosigning and it gives you the protections of flexible repayment options. If you end up in a low paying job, you can go into a repayment schedule that is a percentage of your income. If you get laid off of your job, you can get a forbearance for a while. During Covid, federal loan payments were suspended through the end of the year. If you become a public school teacher, you can enter the public service forgiveness program etc. There are just options that do not exist for private loans.

Now, of course zero debt is better. But I think sticking to federal loan limits can keep you from getting in really deep for undergrad. Now, for grad school that is a whole different story. But the people talking about baristas with six figure debt for a sociology degree are not talking about federal loans. Parents can take PLUS loans that add up and parents can cosign private loans for undergrads but they just can't get in that deep with the undergrad federal loans.

Of course it will still hurt to make payments for most people. But sticking to federal loans is not likely to destroy your life or future. Strategic use of federal loans can open opportunities. My two oldest boys have used them to have better college options than they could have without and they have come in well under the federal limit. Also, they allowed dh and I to pursue other financial goals that furthered the whole family rather than paying for college.

I'd love if my kids didn't need loans but so far they have. But they still are going to do okay. I just always feel the need to point out that federal loans are not the same as private loans. Two different animals.

 

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, FuzzyCatz said:

 I don't think aging parents prepping for retirement should probably be cosigning for loans in most cases either.  

Yes, that was the situation in the case I cited. The parents said they wouldn't consign for another $100,000+. 

When I was trying to figure out if we'd have to borrow for my youngest to finish her degree, we were looking at around $25,000 total which is very doable given that her field generally starts at 2-2.5 times that. 

Edited by G5052
  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, teachermom2834 said:

Sticking to federal loans is a decent guideline, I think. That keeps the parents from cosigning and it gives you the protections of flexible repayment options. If you end up in a low paying job, you can go into a repayment schedule that is a percentage of your income. If you get laid off of your job, you can get a forbearance for a while. During Covid, federal loan payments were suspended through the end of the year. If you become a public school teacher, you can enter the public service forgiveness program etc. There are just options that do not exist for private loans.

Now, of course zero debt is better. But I think sticking to federal loan limits can keep you from getting in really deep for undergrad. Now, for grad school that is a whole different story. But the people talking about baristas with six figure debt for a sociology degree are not talking about federal loans. Parents can take PLUS loans that add up and parents can cosign private loans for undergrads but they just can't get in that deep with the undergrad federal loans.

Of course it will still hurt to make payments for most people. But sticking to federal loans is not likely to destroy your life or future. Strategic use of federal loans can open opportunities. My two oldest boys have used them to have better college options than they could have without and they have come in well under the federal limit. Also, they allowed dh and I to pursue other financial goals that furthered the whole family rather than paying for college.

I'd love if my kids didn't need loans but so far they have. But they still are going to do okay. I just always feel the need to point out that federal loans are not the same as private loans. Two different animals.

 

Just an FYI: Parents are allowed to co-sign for Direct Federal Student Loans. Additionally, the Parent Plus loans are also Direct Federal college loans -- just entirely the responsibility of the parent(s) to pay back:

"A Parent PLUS loan is a type of Direct PLUS federal loan available through the U.S. Department of Education made directly to parents... of a dependent undergraduate student to help pay for the cost of college or career school... Such loans have one of the highest fixed interest rates of all types of federal student debt – 7.08 percent for the 2019-20 school year. Be aware, too, that the consequences of default can be severe. The federal government can potentially garnish your wages and Social Security benefits..." — April 2020 article, Mass Mutual Financial Blog


And if parents take on Parent Plus loans, it will push the total Federal college debt for a family way beyond the 31K max... 😵

Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, Lori D. said:

Just an FYI: Parents are allowed to co-sign for Direct Federal Student Loans. Additionally, the Parent Plus loans are also Direct Federal college loans -- just entirely the responsibility of the parent(s) to pay back:

"A Parent PLUS loan is a type of Direct PLUS federal loan available through the U.S. Department of Education made directly to parents... of a dependent undergraduate student to help pay for the cost of college or career school... Such loans have one of the highest fixed interest rates of all types of federal student debt – 7.08 percent for the 2019-20 school year. Be aware, too, that the consequences of default can be severe. The federal government can potentially garnish your wages and Social Security benefits..." — April 2020 article, Mass Mutual Financial Blog


And if parents take on Parent Plus loans, it will push the total Federal college debt for a family way beyond the 31K max... 😵

Right- I thought I mentioned that Parent Plus loans could get up really high and would exceed the the federal limits I was referencing for students. But I don't know anything about parents cosigning for the Direct Student Loans. I don't understand that at all. So disregard my comments. I guess I don't understand what I thought I did!

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, teachermom2834 said:

Right- I thought I mentioned that Parent Plus loans could get up really high and would exceed the the federal limits I was referencing for students. But I don't know anything about parents cosigning for the Direct Student Loans. I don't understand that at all. So disregard my comments. I guess I don't understand what I thought I did!

No no -- you had great thoughts! They should NOT be disregarded!

It's just that there are a LOT of ways that the Federal gov't (and private lenders) all make it SOOOO EEEAASSYYY to get into deep debt for college. If a student does not exceed the $31K cap for Direct Federal Loans, there is more of a chance of keeping debt manageable.

I just was "covering bases" up thread by mentioning that even that $31K amount in *some* cases for some students/situations can be too much to easily repay... 😉 

Edited by Lori D.
Link to post
Share on other sites

You are not alone. Hubby had a 50% pay raise a few years back. Older two were born into poverty though, there was no saving. Now we make too much to get assistance and there was little time in between to save up and also live in a place with a pretty high cost of living so, despite current high wages it is a pretty tight budget.

 

I told my kids I can help with a room. They can live at home and eat free. They can move elsewhere and I will cover their room but they have to pay all tuition, fees, books, meals, personal expenditures, etc. It was the best I could offer with 4 kids.

There are options out there including scholarships, workings, loans (no grants), military, in state schools. 

The first thing he needs to know is what he plans to pursue. If he doesn't know, that's ok but I'd advise against debt without a goal. The last thing you want is for him to be paying off debt with no degree. Other than that, most things I'd say have been covered by Lori.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, Lori D. said:

No no -- you had great thoughts! They should NOT be disregarded!

It's just that there are a LOT of ways that the Federal gov't (and private lenders) all make it SOOOO EEEAASSYYY to get into deep debt for college. If a student does not exceed the $31K cap for Direct Federal Loans, there is more of a chance of keeping debt manageable.

I just was "covering bases" up thread by mentioning that even that $31K amount in *some* cases for some students/situations can be too much to easily repay... 😉 

Yeah- I totally agree that PLUS loans and private loans can easily get out of hand. I never recommend those. I also said it will still hurt to pay it. Even the $31,000 is not nothing and will still be painful. But it shouldn't destroy your life especially if you have the repayment options that the student federal loans offer. Also, many students can do it on less than the max $31,000. My kids haven't needed that much. I'm not saying loans are great but federal student loans less than $30,000 have opened doors for our family. Of course each situation is different and eyes need to be wide open.

What kind of Direct Federal Student Loans require a parent to co-sign? Dh and I had them and our kids have had them and we have never had parents co-signing? I still have two kids to go so I need to make sure I understand. Is that a way to go over the federal limit? I assumed in that situation the parent would just take a PLUS loan but I guess there is probably other ways. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, teachermom2834 said:

Yeah- I totally agree that PLUS loans and private loans can easily get out of hand. I never recommend those. I also said it will still hurt to pay it. Even the $31,000 is not nothing and will still be painful. But it shouldn't destroy your life especially if you have the repayment options that the student federal loans offer. Also, many students can do it on less than the max $31,000. My kids haven't needed that much. I'm not saying loans are great but federal student loans less than $30,000 have opened doors for our family. Of course each situation is different and eyes need to be wide open.

What kind of Direct Federal Student Loans require a parent to co-sign? Dh and I had them and our kids have had them and we have never had parents co-signing? I still have two kids to go so I need to make sure I understand. Is that a way to go over the federal limit? I assumed in that situation the parent would just take a PLUS loan but I guess there is probably other ways. 

Agree!

Sorry, I was unclear -- not REQUIRED for parents to co-sign Direct Federal Student Loans, but parents MAY co-sign. Sorry for the confusion!

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

You've received a lot of good and specific advice. My comments are a bit more general and meant to offer a thought process that lessens any "guilt" you might feel.

In my experience (having taught and worked in higher ed), kids who have student loans and/or who have to work to help put themselves through college tend to take their studies more seriously. They rarely cut classes. Their financial stake in the game teaches them a series of life lessons that many kids don't learn until much later in life (if at all).  I really don't understand the parental mindset of wanting to pay for a child's education without requiring a significant contribution from them.

My parents were hard-working, but they didn't make a lot of money. I took student loans, my parents also took a loan (to help me) and I worked at whatever menial job(s) I could find -- both during the school years and during the summers. While my friends had fun in the dorms, I worked and studied. I did not cut a single class, because I was paying for those classes!! I also lived at home and commuted 45 minutes each way to school, in an old car I bought, maintained and paid insurance on. I wound up finishing a semester late because I had to save the money to pay for my schooling. I didn't regret any of it at the time, and I never have. All those responsibilities are part of growing up and assuming financial responsibility for oneself. Those experiences instilled in me a recognition of the urgent need to save and invest for my future. It took me almost ten years to pay off my student loans. When I finally did, the sense of accomplishment and achievement was incredible. 

In my opinion, too many parents today are funding too many things for their teenagers without requiring their kids to have a greater stake in the game than they do. Why do we rob our kids of the chance to invest in themselves by investing in their own education? Why do we feel the need to protect our kids from incurring debt that they have to pay off after college? Paying off debt teaches you to live within your means. It also teaches you humility and prioritization of expenditures. Parenting should be focused on raising self-sufficient young adults who are excited about the prospect of taking on financial responsibility for themselves, not dreading it.

Our kids worked throughout high school and therefore, they were prepared to help pay for college. They both had the primary goal of getting full scholarships, because they didn't want to take loans if they could avoid it. They wound up getting full scholarships that required them (as a provisional stipulation) to work every semester. If they had not received full scholarships, they knew that student loans were a distinct possibility, and that motivated them tremendously to routinely sacrifice high school socializing for studies. They chose their high school activities not just based on what they liked, but on what would create a strong scholarship dossier. In other words, at every decision point, the question of funding college was in the forefront of their minds. It helped them prioritize and grow up more successfully than if they hadn't focused on that.

If you have gotten this far in my post, I would guess you either agree with me or want to flame me. In either case, I am okay with that. These are my thoughts and I realize you may have a different opinion. 

To the OP, I hope you let your guilt go. Your child will be better off if they have to help pay (in whatever form that takes) for their education.

 

 

  • Like 6
Link to post
Share on other sites

On the flip side... I worked too much in high school and college, and it changed some of the choices I made. I went with a major that didn't require as much of my time, and consequently, didn't offer a greater payback or job satisfaction.

We went a middle road with our older kids. We offered to pay for exactly 2/3 what the (very inexpensive) state school costs, with housing, on the front end. If they could get through on less they could use the remaining to start on a master's. If not, they were on the hook for the rest. One had money left over. One ran out of money and finished with an AS (the one who has his employer paying tuition.) Our kids have always worked summer jobs and know the value of money.

I know not all families can do this, but there definitely can be very frank conversations about how college funding works, and what paths will help pay for college. CLEPing course, ROTC, merit aid, private scholarships, employers who pay for education (this happens a lot in healthcare... even for fields like biomedical engineering). Our youngest has full access to her college planning spreadsheet and can see how the numbers work compared to what she can afford.

I have a professional person who works for me that never had that summer/ high school service job. He is totally stalled in his career because he doesn't have the interpersonal skills or ability to do any kind of "customer service." Those are valid life skills. Younger dd has been working side jobs since she was 13-14 (under the table), but only in a capacity that it doesn't overlap with her studies.

Edited by MamaSprout
  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, tampamommy said:

In my experience (having taught and worked in higher ed), kids who have student loans and/or who have to work to help put themselves through college tend to take their studies more seriously. They rarely cut classes. Their financial stake in the game teaches them a series of life lessons that many kids don't learn until much later in life (if at all).  I really don't understand the parental mindset of wanting to pay for a child's education without requiring a significant contribution from them.

In my opinion, too many parents today are funding too many things for their teenagers without requiring their kids to have a greater stake in the game than they do. Why do we rob our kids of the chance to invest in themselves by investing in their own education? Why do we feel the need to protect our kids from incurring debt that they have to pay off after college? Paying off debt teaches you to live within your means. It also teaches you humility and prioritization of expenditures. Parenting should be focused on raising self-sufficient young adults who are excited about the prospect of taking on financial responsibility for themselves, not dreading it.

They chose their high school activities not just based on what they liked, but on what would create a strong scholarship dossier. In other words, at every decision point, the question of funding college was in the forefront of their minds. It helped them prioritize and grow up more successfully than if they hadn't focused on that.

If you have gotten this far in my post, I would guess you either agree with me or want to flame me. In either case, I am okay with that.  

Snipped for brevity and bolding by me. 

In our case, we were quite confident that our kids would take their studies seriously regardless of who payed for them. They had never given us any reason to think otherwise, and indeed both of them turned out to be hardworking and serious college students (one of them recently graduated, one of them is in junior year). Had that not turned out to be the case, we would have discussed what needed to happen in order for us to continue paying, but we didn't expect it and it didn't happen. 

I've known students with no financial stake who slack off, but I've also known plenty of students who are making serious financial contributions who are also slacking off. I've seen varying degrees of commitment at every level of financial contribution. Our kids invested in themselves in many important ways over the years; a financial contribution to college was just not one of those ways.

Both of my kids did earn substantial scholarships (one had full tuition and housing, the other full tuition plus about half of housing/meals; neither had work study required), and both could have had a completely full ride had they gone to a different school. Yes, they worked hard to achieve that, and I was proud of their hard work, but I do think we need to keep in mind that this is not an achievable goal for every college student. One can do very well in high school and be prepared for college, yet fail to earn significant scholarships. 

They did not work ongoing outside jobs in high school, but both worked throughout college starting in sophomore year. They have a great work ethic, they both know how to prioritize expenditures, and the both know the power and perils of debt and interest. Taking out student loans can be one way to help teach that (although certainly not sufficient on its own, ime), but it is hardly the only way. 

Regarding high school activities: I can understand the decision to tailor activities toward scholarship opportunities, but I do think it was a great gift to my kids to not have to do this. We searched and found enough schools that had a GPA/score matrix for scholarships, and felt comfortable that they would have enough choices. If that had not been the case, we may have made different decisions for sure, but it's something to investigate and consider. 

I don't agree with you for my kids, or for all kids, but I'm well able to disagree without wanting to flame you, lol. You made a decision that works for you. Others will make completely different decisions that work equally well for them. Just as I know great kids who have homeschooled and public schooled and private schooled, I know successful college students (who are also great people) who financially contributed a little, a lot, or nothing. There aren't any right or wrong decisions overall, just decisions that are right or wrong for the family in question. 

Oh, and another factor that played into our decision is that we aren't paying for weddings. We've told them from an early age that our wedding gift to them is a wonderful education, lol. Many people find paying for college instead of a wedding hard to fathom, while we find the reverse hard to fathom. To each his own! 

 

 

  • Like 7
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Another thought I have had regarding student loans is that even if I could pay outright, it is possible I would have the student take the standard federal loans with the intent to pay them off for them if they finished. This idea came from watching a dear friend work really hard to pay the whole bill for her child without him taking loans. She was determined he would not take them. Well, he went for two and a half years this way without getting serious and he did drop out. Now, their relationship is more strained than it would be if a kid just stopped going to college without costing the parents a lot of money. Now, not only is she disappointed he didn’t finish college, she feels like he wasted a ton of her money and she is resentful. That money is complicating the relationship now.

I think I would likely feel the same way because money is tight and I have three other kids. If my kid has a loan I didn’t co-sign for and he drops out it is his problem. He wasted his own money. I know that sounds harsh but I think we would have a better relationship than if I was resenting the money I spent. 
 

Not saying it would play out that way for all families, at all, but if if I thought I couldn’t gift college expenses without being resentful if they didn’t finish, it might be better for all involved to not do it and pay them back upon completion instead. (Or have them take a loan the first year or two to prove themselves maybe).

I have one kid that doesn’t always work as hard as I feel like he should even though overall he does pretty well. When he has had to drop a class or repeat one I do feel like it was easier to know that he was the one paying for it. I think that helped me be supportive cheerleader more than frustrated consumer. 
 

So I think there are lots of ways to approach it that can have good outcomes. It is not a one size fits all. I don’t know that mine would have done poorly if they had it for free. I really don’t think that at all. But it hasn’t hurt them having a big stake either so I don’t feel guilt. 
 

My oldest is getting ready to start paying his back. I still haven’t considered how I will contribute (if at all). I have been thinking of matching his payment so he can pay it off more quickly but so he is still budgeting for the payment both for life skills and in case we can’t continue for some reason. Lots of ways to handle things. 

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, katilac said:

 

Oh, and another factor that played into our decision is that we aren't paying for weddings. We've told them from an early age that our wedding gift to them is a wonderful education, lol. Many people find paying for college instead of a wedding hard to fathom, while we find the reverse hard to fathom. To each his own! 

 

 

Okay, but do you have daughters or sons?  (lol).  Can you believe some people pay more to host a quinceanera than a wedding?  

Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, daijobu said:

Okay, but do you have daughters or sons?  (lol).  Can you believe some people pay more to host a quinceanera than a wedding?  

Both daughters. 

Quinceaneras are not are not part of our cultural or family tradition, so we dodged that bullet. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Are you open to looking at international schools? They can be a fraction of the cost of US universities, even paying full international tuition. 
Many accept US scholarships as well as offer their own scholarships for international students. 
Depending on the country, cost of living might be significantly less as well. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 5 weeks later...

Most college accept CLEP classes as well, modern states has funding and some courses to help prepare. Even without funding, much cheaper than a class at a college.

https://modernstates.org

Find out which classes are accepted and what score is needed at the colleges you are considering.

I agree with several posters that a course for ACT/SAT is worth the $ for that score.

My son did well with Prep Scholar's SAT course, they also have an ACT course. My son does better with the SAT, my daughter did better with the ACT, it can be different which test will be easier to score well on.

https://www.prepscholar.com/act/s/

The Black book was the most helpful book I found for improving scores on your own, I used it in conjunction with the prep scholar course, they have slightly different methods and tips.

https://www.amazon.com/ACT-Prep-Black-Book-Strategies/dp/0692078398/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?dchild=1&keywords=act+black+book&qid=1609785367&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUEyTlJCUkJIMUg2RlZYJmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwNDIyMjY1MUY1V0g2M09BR1RVWiZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUEwNTE4MjQyM1UySENWQTBLMUZXQyZ3aWRnZXROYW1lPXNwX2F0ZiZhY3Rpb249Y2xpY2tSZWRpcmVjdCZkb05vdExvZ0NsaWNrPXRydWU=

You need to print out or buy the tests separately, it's usually actually cheaper to buy the book if you're going to print more than 1 or 2. This book has 5 ACT tests. Their answer explanation aren't great, though, the black book linked above has much better answer explanations and tips.

https://www.amazon.com/Official-ACT-Prep-Guide-2020/dp/1119685761/ref=msx_wsirn_v1_1/134-2282792-0320810?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=1119685761&pd_rd_r=2cfab977-c5d2-4637-abe6-34c999b10381&pd_rd_w=CnArK&pd_rd_wg=jT01y&pf_rd_p=77bfbfb0-a9eb-4e71-8d50-7ac5425f6fa1&pf_rd_r=TCRFY52QEEYDBN31Q8DY&psc=1&refRID=TCRFY52QEEYDBN31Q8DY

There is also a black book with good answers and a red book with tests for the SAT.

Edited by ElizabethB
Link to post
Share on other sites

I went back and looked at scores--with about 1 hour of study, the Black Book hints in English took my daughter from a 21 to a 31, and allowed her to place out of two English classes (saves time, but not $, she has a ton of classes she wants to take, she wants to get at least one minor.) Her overall score after study also got her a merit scholarship. We didn't do test prep until late, she probably could have got another $2,000 a semester if we started sooner, we have started test prep sooner with my son. (She was also sick on the 21 test day, the true score raise is maybe 4 to 6 points, she was averaging a bit higher on practice tests, I don't have those exact numbers anymore.)

The main thing that improved her English score, and almost all of her consistent wrong answers, was something the Black Book called comma sandwiches. I didn't totally understand their explanation, but apparently she did. I had her read the comma sandwich section and redo questions she missed that were that type, her other errors we went through together why they said they were wrong. The Black Book explanations are a totally different level of explanation.

I had her re-do the questions with the comma sandwich section open book for reference, she learns best that way.

Edited by ElizabethB
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/18/2020 at 9:41 PM, Just Kate said:

Thank you!

I’m feeling angry at myself for not doing a better job of preparing for this stage in life. Do most kids have to take out loans? Are we the only parents who don’t have money saved?

 

On 11/28/2020 at 7:16 PM, Lori D. said:

Absolutely -- getting student loans AND NOT finishing a degree is killing the future and the finances of MANY young adults -- which is often those without a clear career path, as you say. 

That's why I am a big proponent of community college first (if the student has a good one nearby which has credits that transfer), and explore at a (usually) much lower cost. And it's not so hard to either switch from the AA (direct-to-college Associate degree), to an AAS (direct-to-work Associate degree) in the trades or vocational-tech fields. We desperately need people to go into the trades and the lower-level-degree medical fields, rather than buying into the culture-wide idea that "everyone MUST go to a university and get a 4-year degree to get a job"...

 

I'm late to the party but this is such a useful thread for others.  If I had a kiddo who got a 26 cold, I'd expect a 28-29 with some pretty basic prep.  It's always worth a do over.  Paired with a solid GPA, this would usually result in some automatic merit aid.

If I had a kiddo (and I do) who wants a military career, given our personal experience, I'd strongly encourage college FIRST.  DH got his bachelors first and went enlisted to pay off student loans. This was 20 years ago, and things have since changed and they don't insist now that you go enlisted to get loan repayment.  DS (21) has always known he wanted the Army.  I have pictures of him in BDU's when he was 3-4.  We *strongly* discouraged high school to Army for him.  He was academic, had scholarship offers, and knew he wanted a Bachelors at a minimum.  If he had not wanted a degree (eventually) we would have been content for military service immediately.  However, of the close friends we have that attempted to get a degree after military service when they were older, established with a family, needed to work, etc., it was extremely hard for them.  He's a senior now.  He did ROTC classes, but did not contract.  This is his final year to contract and they are encouraging him.  If I were you, I would have looked hard at ROTC.  He doesn't need to do it his freshman year.  He can take a few ROTC classes and see how he likes it before commitment.  And even if he doesn't, there is student loan repayment programs, though I haven't looked into them in a very long time so I lack any real knowledge.

 

On 11/29/2020 at 2:46 PM, G5052 said:

Completely their choice, but one of my son's friends graduated with six figures in loans and then wanted to go to law school. Even living at home and taking the train in, it would have been another six figures in loans. 

Boggles my mind that anyone would encourage (or allow if I'm being transparent) a kid that lacks a clear vision forward to go to a school, no merit aid, that costs them over $100,000 for four years.  We did state schools with merit aid.  This is such a saddle on their backs. 😞 

On 11/29/2020 at 3:06 PM, FuzzyCatz said:

Weirdly, I know like a dozen people with who graduated law school who are not currently practicing law. 

We also know a few.  And, amusingly, I have a son who changed his major and is planning on law school next.  Not my monkey, not my circus.  He's working out the details.  I support his plan, we just can't pay for it, so whatever he feels compelled to do.


Like Quill, we did state schools with merit aid.  Our oldest graduated with no debt.  Our second had scholarships to cover tuition, but he didn't want to live at home so borrowed for campus living.  Our third is doing CC first - scholarships are covering everything.  I'm not against student loan debt. There just needs to be a plan forward out of it.......

@LoriD - you encourage CC before state schools.  But I'd like you to expand on that for this thread if you don't mind? Or in another.  Often the state school will offer a large scholarship to incoming freshman that is renewable.  I'll give you an example.  Oldest DD was  given two scholarships.  One was large, around $6500 (tuition just under $10k.)  It was given only to incoming freshman and renewable.  It was *not* offered to transfer students.  She ended up with four years of covered tuition.  While we are sure she would have been given free tuition at CC, she would not have received the same aid as a transfer student.

Incoming freshman - $0 and sophomore, junior, and senior years - $0.
CC - $0, $0, and then University - $10k, $10k - $20k

We're in the midst of this decision right now.  Our 17yo senior is naive and sweet and we're terrified to send her to the school she wants to attend.  CC is a better social option for her.  But, this decision will likely put her into student debt. :/  Especially because her brother graduates next year, her sister graduates next year, our dependents decrease, and DH is making significantly more (while our medical expenses are pretty significant) so we think any financial aid she could have hoped for will be diminished to nothing.  

I know this muddies the waters significantly.  However, while we are likely choosing CC first (for *this* student and it's her preference) I really believe in many scenarios, it is NOT ideal.  I think applications to both and looking at offers is important.

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, BlsdMama said:

Incoming freshman - $0 and sophomore, junior, and senior years - $0.
CC - $0, $0, and then University - $10k, $10k - $20k

I think part of the equation is whether the kid knows what they want to do. If they change majors so much that it takes them longer to get a degree, then U becomes more expensive. Also, not all kids can live at home, not all kids can get full tuition scholarships, not all state schools are as generous with aid as yours. So, the example above is less likely than one where the student takes 5 or more years either way and incurrs some level of debt -- with the magnitude being the difference.

  • Like 5
Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, BlsdMama said:

... @LoriD - you encourage CC before state schools.  But I'd like you to expand on that for this thread if you don't mind? ...

... Often the state school will offer a large scholarship to incoming freshman that is renewable.  I'll give you an example.  Oldest DD was  given two scholarships.  One was large, around $6500 (tuition just under $10k.)  It was given only to incoming freshman and renewable.  It was *not* offered to transfer students.  She ended up with four years of covered tuition.  While we are sure she would have been given free tuition at CC, she would not have received the same aid as a transfer student.

Incoming freshman - $0 and sophomore, junior, and senior years - $0.
CC - $0, $0, and then University - $10k, $10k - $20k

Awesome for your DD!

Thx for sharing that info. Yes, typically the biggest awards go to freshmen, and freshman awards are also usually renewable (good for up to 4 years), as long as the student maintains the requirements for the scholarship). Far fewer transfer student scholarships tend to be awarded, and transfer scholarships tend to be for much small amounts (such as $1000-2500), and they tend to be 1-time awards.

However, every school is going to be different, so families really have to do their research--and their math--to determine what is their best financial option, as well as best academic option for your student's post-high school education.

For example: the options in @BlsdMama's area have not been options in our area. 

Our state was one of the hardest hit when the housing bubble burst / the economy suffered the big downturn. One result for our state was a massive hit to state income, which meant that the state slashed funding of the universities to the bone. This meant that the state universities had very little money for scholarships, AND tuition skyrocketed to make up for the reduction in state aid. 

While our state universities have finally bounced back somewhat from the economic downturn 12-13 years back, typical scholarship awards are for 1/4 to 1/2 tuition. Merit aid (not need-based, but "gift" award) scholarships go to about 10% of incoming freshmen, so students need to be scoring higher than a 26-28 on the ACT to compete for those scholarships. And secondary scholarships are rare, except for sports scholarships. The state schools also do not allow stacking of scholarships, so a student who brings in a significant "outside" award will have that amount deducted from their financial aid package.

On the other hand, our CCs cost 1/4th of what the universities do, and have articulation agreements with the state universities. And students who go to the private Christian liberal arts college (LAC) have the benefit of: CC credits transfer; tuition is $3000/year less than the state universities; and the private LAC offers substantial (1/2-tuition) transfer scholarships that ARE renewable...


All that to say, Everyone: do your homework and do your math to find what is the best financial AND academic options available to each individual student, with their unique interests/abilities and scores/GPA. 😄 

A few thoughts for helping families think through the options in their area:

Possible reasons why NOT to start at the community college (CC) and transfer:
- not all CCs have articulation agreements with state universities to accept 2 years at the CC as covering the gen. ed. credits of the 4-year Bachelor degree
- not all CCs offer classes that actually transfer to 4-year schools, or transfer as part of the degree program
- the quality of the CC classes may be sub-par
- the CC tuition cost may be nearly as much as the university tuition -- so, not much of a savings 
- after toting up the potential tuition costs and off-setting scholarships (either freshman award or transfer student award), it costs more to do 2 years at the CC and then transfer to the university

Possible reasons why TO start at the community college (CC) and transfer:
- while still in high school: the CC has a free or low-cost "running start" or other program for dual enrollment students that will transfer to the university and the student also comes in as a freshman
- the CC offers good scholarships, and the university offers good transfer scholarships
- the CC costs significantly less, the student is undecided about a major, and it would be very costly to use the university for "dabbling", especially if there is a chance the student may drop out of college after a few semesters
- the CC costs significantly less, and the student's test scores & GPA will not land significant scholarship money at the university
- the CC costs significantly less, and the family's FAFSA EFC # will not yield a significant amount of non-loan need-based aid
- after toting up the potential tuition costs and off-setting scholarships (either freshman award or transfer student award), it costs less to do 2 years at the CC and then transfer to the university


Students who tend to "fall between two chairs" are those with test scores (like an ACT score above 26, but below 30) and GPA (above 3.0 but below 3.75), that put them above average, but not in the top 5-10%. AND who have a FAFSA EFC # that does not yield non-loan financial aid. So, only small scholarships for the university. Not much need-based aid beyond loans. And only small transfer scholarships if knocking out the first 2 years at a CC. 😢

Edited by Lori D.
  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 11/18/2020 at 9:37 PM, Just Kate said:

Ds is a junior this year. For the past few years, he has said that he wants to enlist in the military directly after high school and then pursue college. He is (fairly) academically minded and while I would prefer him to not enlist (simply because I’m his mom!) I was supporting his decision. Now he is considering college after high school and I’m trying to understand how to pay for it. 
 

Unfortunately, we do not have college savings for our kids. We have had many bouts of unemployment over the years, so financially, saving for college just didn’t happen. 
 

Ds currently has a 3.9 and is taking all college prep classes. He is not taking AP courses, but he is taking dual-credit classes. He just took the ACT with zero prep and got a 26. 
 

I loath the idea of saddling ds with a bunch of student loans, but I really don’t know what our options are. Thoughts?

Which state are you in?

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm also a huge proponent of community college for the first two years and then transferring to a four-year. (Unless of course scholarship money is a better deal going straight to a four year).

My good friend's daughter did four years at a very fancy DC university. When it was done, the daughter lamented not having done the first two years at her local cc because she incurred a lot of loans.

A two year tech college might be fine. Mike Rowe -- the Dirty Jobs guy -- says plenty of kids can get their tech education and start working. The idea that every kid needs four years is not the thing that it used to be.

Just a thought, but you can do a two-year nursing degree, then take the registered nursing cert. If you pass the cert, you can go out and find a job.

Please don't be hard on yourself, dh and I just happen to have moved to a state that makes scholarships easy. Otherwise, gulp-city. Even so, my two are doing the first two years at the cc and in the fall they transfer to the four-year. (And, yeah, you have to make sure that whatever he takes at cc transfers to the four-year).

Wendy

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, BlsdMama said:

...  Our 17yo senior is naive and sweet and we're terrified to send her to the school she wants to attend.  CC is a better social option for her.  But, this decision will likely put her into student debt. 😕 Especially because her brother graduates next year, her sister graduates next year, our dependents decrease, and DH is making significantly more (while our medical expenses are pretty significant) so we think any financial aid she could have hoped for will be diminished to nothing...

If she starts at the CC and then transfers, you could request additional financial aid from that future 4-year school by bringing in paperwork showing those additional medical expenses that reduce your assets for being able to pay for the 4-year school.

Also, might there be an Associate's degree at the CC that she would love and that would provide a good income for her? I'm thinking of 8FillTheHeart's daughter who got her Associate's degree in Occupational Therapy and is making a very comfortable income.

While your DD might later need to go back for a 4-year degree, she would have a good chunk done through the Associate degree, would have been able to save for the tuition, and would likely be over 24yo, so your parent financial info is no longer needed to apply for financial aid.

Of course, who knows what post-secondary education and college costs/admission/availability will even look like 2-3 years from now, after all of the pandemic and related economy fall-out... 😩

Edited by Lori D.
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Our state has a free tuition offer for kids with a 3.0 or higher. However, room and board is still another 10-12k. Cc is less than half of that, even without scholarships, and they live at home. As transfer students, mine have been able to get 5-6k per year in scholarships. So, cc first really shaved off a lot, plus gave them the freedom to explore and change majors while in the inexpensive phase (switching from nursing to early childhood Ed adds on time!). And they had the added advantage of more scaffolding with study skills and adulting skills.

If there was a uni in our town, that would be a very different scenario though!

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I am coming to this discussion late but thought I would contribute anyway. 8-)

We were able to save, but only a bit. 529s for each kid amounted to about a year's worth of tuition (only) at a state school, so that had to be spread out carefully.

My oldest wanted art college, and her portfolio earned her a partial scholarship there plus we chose the lower cost alternative, a non-for-profit school. The rest was made up with a CalGrant plus Stafford loan each year, plus some of her 529 plus legacy $ from her grandparents. As we moved her freshman year, she was going to be stuck with housing, but friends from our church stepped up and she was able to live for free with various families for all of her 4.5 years of college. She also worked p/t and summers at various art kiosks. When she graduated with her BFA, none of her job applications panned out and she ended up going back to the CC for classes in graphic design, which did postpone her student loan payments, at least. She's pretty close to paying off the loan, thankfully.

My 2nd wasn't sure he wanted to go past an AA and did some exploration at the CC, was there for 3 years after starting there @ age 16. Because of a couple of his profs at CC he ended up going on to a degree, completed with 2 more years at the local state college, living at home. He graduated debt free, having worked p/t all through college. He paid part of the tuition for his last 2 years with a combination of a small scholarship, legacy $, 529 savings, and his own earnings.

 

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/7/2021 at 8:25 AM, BlsdMama said:


If I had a kiddo (and I do) who wants a military career, given our personal experience, I'd strongly encourage college FIRST.  DH got his bachelors first and went enlisted to pay off student loans. This was 20 years ago, and things have since changed and they don't insist now that you go enlisted to get loan repayment.  DS (21) has always known he wanted the Army.  I have pictures of him in BDU's when he was 3-4.  We *strongly* discouraged high school to Army for him.  He was academic, had scholarship offers, and knew he wanted a Bachelors at a minimum.  If he had not wanted a degree (eventually) we would have been content for military service immediately.  However, of the close friends we have that attempted to get a degree after military service when they were older, established with a family, needed to work, etc., it was extremely hard for them.  He's a senior now.  He did ROTC classes, but did not contract.  This is his final year to contract and they are encouraging him.  If I were you, I would have looked hard at ROTC.  He doesn't need to do it his freshman year.  He can take a few ROTC classes and see how he likes it before commitment.  And even if he doesn't, there is student loan repayment programs, though I haven't looked into them in a very long time so I lack any real knowledge.

 

This, like every other thing about college, depends. My dd is applying for a Navy ROTC scholarship in addition to having gotten her enlisted contract back in August. However, for her, it seems that enlisting would be the better option if she doesn't plan on having a long term career in the Navy. The issue for her is that she's graduating hs with more than 60 college credits that will all transfer to her preferred in-state university. So she'd only get the two or three years of funding that she'd need to graduate (depending on how easy it is to enroll in all the classes she'd need for her major in sequence.) If she only served out the ROTC contract, she wouldn't have GI Bill benefits to use for grad school. As a result, she wouldn't be eligible for the Yellow Ribbon program at prestigious (and expensive) private schools for grad school. The opportunity cost of lost wages is also a consideration. At 18, her alternative is minimum wage part time work. After she graduates from college, it will be much higher. A final issue is that you don't sign a contract for a specific job with ROTC like you do with an enlistment. If you want a specific field as opposed to the general military job experience, this can also be an important consideration. 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...