Do you believe that the only way to help your kids is to send them to expensive colleges? It’s not true and I have the experience to prove it.
Here’s an email I received recently that might just reflect a situation you are facing:
My biggest financial challenge right now that I am facing is my son’s college tuition.
I have been saving for this since he was 4. It was my intention to be able to pay for his college (all if not at least most) with this money…….
I do have enough to send him to a community college for a couple of years – it’s just with the rising cost of tuition I am not able to do what I had hoped for.
I know that many people say that I should not worry about things like that, and go ahead and have him take out the student loans……that’s just not what I wanted to do.
I am working UNBELIEVABLY hard to get completely and totally out of debt and would hate for him to get out of school with an additional $40k in student loans. Needless to say, I am just going day by day trying to wade through this mess. I will be continuing to find his college account just as I had in the beginning (although it will be a bit more now) but when the year of community college is over –
I see no choice but to get the loans. I am at least grateful that I will not be taking loans for the ENTIRE amount. That I did at least do a little bit right.
Catherine did a great job of saving and investing. She did the best she could. I feel bad that she is beating herself up like this. If you do your best, what else can you expect of yourself? So before we begin, I advise Catherine to give herself a hug and buy herself a double scoop of whatever she likes – she deserves it! Now, lets move over to the issue at hand.
As far as your friends telling you to take loans…my advice is to get new friends. Please don’t start borrowing money…even if you can do it inexpensively. What kind of lesson do we teach our kids about life if we spend lots of money we don’t have for something that we could get much cheaper? Slow down Pilgrim. It’s easy for your friends to tell your son to take loans…they aren’t going to spend the next 15 years paying them back.
A few months ago I wrote a post on why we send our kids to expensive colleges. It rarely has anything to do with giving our kids a better education. Read that post to see why.
Your child’s success in life is going to be a function of what kind of effort he or she puts in. And what he studies is far more important than where he studies it. Catherine, if your son is anything like his mother, he’s going to do just fine. You are doing the right thing by working hard to get out of debt and by not saddling him with tuition debt. A community college is a great way to start a college career. He can transfer to a 4 year school once he completes his lower division courses. What’s wrong with that? Give your son the opportunity to participate in his education. Encourage him to get a job so he can save for the cost of post-community college education.
If, after all is said and done, he needs to take loans, so be it. If that is what it takes to finish his degree, fine. But make sure you do all you can to reduce the need for loans.
1. Send them to the school you can afford.
Never mortgage your home or retirement in order to pay for your kids’ fancy schools. Encourage then to work as hard as you are and tell them to graduate college early. That should save you both quite a bit.
2. Encourage them to enroll in the College of Life.
Let them work to pay for as much college as they can. The tuition is perfect and they’ll learn more about how to get along in the world than any college could teach them.
3. Continue to set a good example.
Live within your means. Do the best you can. Nobody can ask more of you than that.
What say you? Are you facing the challenges that Catherine faces? How have you handled this issue? Have I forgotten or overlooked an opportunity? Let me know what it is, please.