Of course you should ask how much does college cost. But you should equally focus on how to reduce college costs. The truth is that you can build your own ivory tower with the cash you’ll save by taking a few unconventional steps.
If you are a regular reader, you already know that I am not a big fan of sending kids to expensive colleges. Studies prove that our success in life is not a function of where we went to college.
In fact, my experience tells me that we don’t spend the big money on college for Junior’s sake. I think it has much more to do with our own ego thirst.
But regardless of where your children go to college, there are a few things you can do to save a bundle:
1. No summer job.
Yes…you read that right…and no…I haven’t lost my mind. Even if your child has great entrepreneurial ideas, tell her to hold off. Your student already has a job – it’s called college and the mission is to get that degree ASAP.
The longer your child stays in college, the more it will cost you. Most college costs – like tuition and room and board – are fixed, so the goal is to have Junior graduate from college early and start working full-time as soon as possible.
You don’t take a three-month summer vacation, do you? At some point, that was over. Why should your college kid kick back for three months?
Explain that her job is to get through school pronto. No messing around. This is even better than paid internships for college students. Register for summer classes and get it done.
Think about it.
Let’s say it costs you $25,000 to send your daughter to college. If it takes her four years, that’s a total of $100,000. If you can push her through in three or three and a half years, you’ll save up to $25,000. And that’s not all.
Assume your daughter graduates early and finds a job earning $30,000 (gently remind your student that finding employment is, after all, the reason we go to college). In this case, you save the fixed cost ($12,500 – $25,000), plus she earns $30,000. A nice boost…right?
2. Take lower division classes at community colleges.
I’m in California and we have a huge number of fantastic community colleges. When your son or daughter comes home for summer vacation, show them the benefits of taking lower division classes during the summer at community college (the only problem you’ll have is what to do with your savings from taking this step):
a. It will be easier for them to get classes when they go back to school in fall because they won’t be competing for the general education classes that everyone else wants.
b. It will reduce the debt they are accumulating.
c. It could mean money will be left over once they graduate. That means there could be some money to help them in grad school.
In most cases, a summer job is only going to pay $10 per hour. If your kid works, he’ll just use the money for beer and movies anyway. If your child can go to summer school instead and as a result, graduate one or two semesters early, it’s a far better proposition. Plus, added bonus…he’ll be so busy with homework that he won’t have time to spend money.
How long did it take you to graduate college? Did you go to summer school? Is it fair to ask your child to do this?