Paying for College

Too many families are caught by surprise at the total cost of a college education (i.e. from first semester to graduation).  Often waiting to research the facts about college tuition and financial aid until the eldest child is in high school, very late in the game do parents realize that the landscape has changed since they were in college.

With college costs rising annually, on average between 8 to 10 percent the price-tag of a bachelors degree over four years has doubled, or tripled since they earned theirs.  What cost mom and dad $40,000 back then, now costs $100,000 for their eldest child.  Many families have two or more children.  Since college "sticker prices" continue to rise annually, families with 2, 3 or 4 children are facing costs exceeding $200,000-$400,000.

Add to that the fact that fewer and fewer students are able to graduate in four years and the bill can come as quite a shock.  Here's a question for you now: Which year of college is the most expensive? 

Answer:  The year you haven't planned on; usually year 5.

Why does it take students so long?  One answer is the large census in many public universities.  15,000 - 20,000 on campus is not an uncommon undergraduate enrollment at a land grant university.  That results in required classes filling up quickly.  Sometimes students have to wait a semester or two for another shot at it. 

Another reason students take longer than four years to graduate is they matriculate without a clear idea as to their academic and/or career objective.  That can result in earning course credits that count toward their total number of hours, but not toward their major. 

A third answer is that some students are academically ill-prepared for college.  Some need remediation, others simply perform poorly in the freshman year.  Low grades equate to a longer graduation timeline.

"So," you may be thinking, "the title of this article is Paying for College and now I'm not sure that is possible for us."  We understand, and we can help.  There are specific strategies that can be employed to minimize your out-of-pocket expenses.  There is merit aid available.  There are loan programs that can be leveraged to soften the economic blow to your nest-egg. 

The most important action you can take? Start today.  Whether your child is in high school or elementary school waiting even one more day works against you.  Time is your greatest financial asset.

We recommend a sequential approach to managing the costs of college.  In order,

  1. Gather the facts (and that includes picking the right college for your student). 
  2. Apply for financial aid. 
  3. Become cash flow efficient.
  4. Determine your borrowing sources (options).
  5. Spend down your own assets, as a last resort; and as little as possible.

Succeed Where It Counts will help you work through that five-step process.  We cannot make college free for your child, but we do our best to reduce the cost and re-direct those savings toward your long-term financial goals.

Contact us today.  We have an appointment slot that will fit your schedule.

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