6/6/2011 5:22 PM ET|
How to chop the cost of college
Students now spend an average of 6 years in college. Parents who saved were probably counting on 4 years. Here's how to lower the price of higher education.
"If you told your daughter or son they have $200,000 to get through college, what do you think they'd do?" a father of four asked me the other day. His answer? "They'd go to a junior college for two years and spend about $100,000 on college. And then they'd pocket the rest."
But Christina Kim, the mother of 18-year-old Jonathan, doesn't have that kind of money. She called me to say she was making a tough decision: to postpone college for her son until he has an idea of what he wants to do with his career.
"I just can't afford $40,000 if we don't know what he wants to be," she told me. "I can't risk wasting that money."
It's a reality more and more parents are facing. Parents like Kim want to avoid having their children be among the increasing number of students who now spend an average of six years in college, easily tacking on thousands to costs.
For her, it's doubly painful: "I have self-employed friends who can manage to keep their reported income at $35,000 a year. They're getting to send their kids to Boston University for just $10,000, but I'm not in that boat."
Junior college to keep costs junior size
So Kim is taking a couple of routes that more and more parents are taking. The first is sending her son to a junior college before shelling out more for a traditional four-year college or university.
"We've always been a magnet for students who have no money," says Jane Brofman, the director of marketing for Capital Community College in Hartford, Conn. "But because of the economy, we are definitely seeing an uptick in students who would normally go to the state university or even UConn and can't afford it now. They come for a couple of years and then transfer."
To give you an idea of the savings, a student could attend Capital Community College for two years at a cost of about $7,000. Compare that to the University of Connecticut, which runs about $16,000 for tuition alone. It's like getting the first two years of college for more than 50% off.
By having an agreement with universities in the area, the community college helps ensure that credits are transferrable.
In California, the state university system depends on community college transfers for a large portion of its upper-division enrollment. More than 50% of the California state universities' bachelor's degrees are awarded to community college transfer students. One of the new challenges facing students taking this route is that budget cuts are forcing community colleges, in California and other states, to cut course offerings. So careful planning is needed to ensure students have the credits they need to transfer. In California, students can get the latest information from CCCApply.org.
Summer at your local junior college and relatives
Another move students and parents can make: Take some summer classes at the local junior college. Not only can students save some money on tuition, but it might also help them stay on track to graduate in four years.
Even if students don't go for those summer classes at a junior college, they can save considerably by living with relatives -- easily $10,000 or more. I'll admit from my own experience that the student won't get the dream digs or the college experience he or she had hoped for. But the home-cooked meals and the affordable price can give students the financial freedom needed to take unpaid internships or simply pursue dream careers.
Finally, Kim is making another move -- turning to technology and pros to provide her son with guidance counseling to help him explore his options.
By employing professional guidance counselors early in the process, parents can help students clarify goals and identify possible career paths in time to make the most from the money, time and resources invested in a college education.
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Wisely, my brother is now entering a community college for <$4000/year and then transferring to a state school. Had I known the economy would have crashed, I would have done the same as him.
I actually did this. I went to community college for two years, mom paid out of pocket, then I got a 50% off scholarship to a four year university out of state. I graduated with $20,000 in federal stafford loans.
It would be great if I only wanted a B.A. But I am planning to start graduate school in the fall. Unfortunately, I cannot work full time while I work towards my M.F.A.
I can only do work study on campus or work part time evenings and weekends. My graduate school (Loyola Marymount University) tuition is $11,000. Not bad.
In Ohio there is also an option called the Post-Secondary Enrollment Option. It's for high school students. You attend a public university and the credits counts towards both your high school education and your college education. They state pays for the student's tuition, books, and any other required items (I had to have a specific calculator for a math class so it was provided for me). Everything has to be returned at the end of the quarter but you have what you need while you're in class. You can choose to take some high school and some college classes or you can go to college full time (this is what I did). The student has to be pretty self-motivated because professors who teach classes with 300+ students don't care if you're in class or turning in assignments but it was a great option for me. And it saved me and my mom a ton of money.
You want a degree from a top name school? Fine, then bust your but at the local branch of your state college for four years, do well on the GRE's (the grad school version of the SAT's), and get a teaching assistantship and scholarship from a top-ranked university.
I agree if they don't know then working and going to community college is the route. They pay the tuition but live at home. All other expenses are theirs.
As far as regular public college though the goal is to divide and conquer on costs.
$4000 back from the gov - state and local on taxes.
$5000 - kid provides from work in summer and during school.
$6000 - kid gets from loans
$4000 - saved from 529 or similar
$1000 - saved from kids gifts or kids work pre-college or scholarship.
$4000 - parents provide
$1750 - parent provides for summer living and medical insurance.
If the kids gets in 1 to 2 year of it from junior college then his loans could be 1/2 of what they are otherwise. If the kid lives at home during college then he can also have small loans. Make sure the child understand from middle school on what the expectation is and why they want to do what they can to reduce the cost. The big problem is that there is this cultural bias that parents are supposed to pay everything for the kids. The parents have to set up the understanding that this is not the way it is supposed to be. It is really indulging the kids to not expect them to invest in their own future.
You wan't some advice?? Here: If your family has money put away for a college
education(say anywhere from 20K-100K+) Take 15% of the money and go to a one or two year trade school. Here you will learn an actual skill by possibly becoming either a (plumber, electrician, private contractor, computer analysyt, ect). Since you'll getting paid during this time, you'll learn valuable life skills(paying bills, learning how to have a reasonable control of your finances, basically learning how to live in the modern world. So the important question: What to do with the other 85%?????? Invest in US Treasury Bonds? Fool. How about investing in world currency( maybe even curency other than the
Rothschild Federal Reserve Conterfeit US Dollar)? Even bigger Fool. What about investing in individual companies or indexes on the NYSE or NASDAQ?? Completely Foolish. Commodities are hot, easy killing in Chicago right?? Wrong. How about a mutual or hedge fund??? I'm starting to laugh. Real estate is always safe, especially Mortgage Backed Securities and other derivatives such as Credit Default Swaps?? Enough. The true answer is:
(and please anyone who agrees or disagress write me back , maybe I'm wrong)
BUY GOLD AND SILVER!!!
I never paid for college as I received a Full Academic Scholarship for both undergraduate and graduate school(completely worthless) at Temple University(Philadelphia,PA), however many of my friends families saved and borrowed hundreds of thousands to attend undergraduate and eventually Pharmacy School. Imagine if they took that hundred thousand and invested in real currency(Gold,Silver) back in 1996. in short, they would have been very happy.
Instead most are in debt for life. Professionals that are in debt for life regardless of how much money they make.
Learn a trade, make money, and invest in Gold and Silver. With this valuable capital, a person can start a
business or more. The alternative; go to college, learn nothing, and be a slave the rest of your life. I was a little more fortunate in my situation with my scholarship and my family's finances, but many are not. COLLEGE IS A SHAM, A VERY LUCRATIVE SHAM.
Learn to educate yourselves, Trust me on this.
Minor: Finance ==========================> ABSOLUTELY NOTHING
Masters: Secondary Science Education
(Chemistry, Biology, Physics)
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