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Old 09-07-2012, 03:21 PM   #151
NotUrsula
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Originally Posted by crisi View Post
It's a matter of what you value and what you can afford. Many people would say Staying at the Poly is not worth three times the cost of a room offsite. But if you can afford it and if you value it, stay at the Poly. But I don't think it's wise to spend your retirement funds or go into debt to do so.

College is no different. If being near the ski slopes adds enough value to you to make up the difference between instate tuition in Alabama and out of state tuition I Colorado AND you can afford it (and balance skiing and school), why not?
Of course, but affording it is the key, now isn't it? A weeks' splurge at the Poly isn't likely to cost you as much as a car, let alone as much as a 30-yr mortgage debt, but splurging on a high-priced private college education can easily hit that threshhold.

The problem is that many people take on college debt that they cannot afford, telling themselves that it won't be all that difficult to repay the loans with the wonderful job that Junior will land the day after graduation. Problem is, assuming Jr. does manage to get a f/t job that quickly, if it pays a gross of $23K, a debt of $100K is going to take a LONG time to pay down.

All I am advocating here is being realistic about that. If you are going to have to go into debt to finance an education, you need to calculate the real probability of what it will realistically take to repay the debt in a reasonable period of time without living in near-poverty for the rest of your life.

For most Americans, a "why not?" splurge on the order of the cost of a house is something not to be entered into lightly, and in my case, not at all. I make a decent living, but I cannot afford that. My children won't be doing it on my dime, and I'm going to caution them against doing it on their own dimes, either.
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Old 09-07-2012, 03:22 PM   #152
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DH and I both paid for (actually are STILL paying for) college ourselves...$60K for him/ $160K for me! There was no question about who was going to pay since our parents were essentially poor. The situation will be different for our kids though. Since we make a good living (due to our education!), our kids will not qualify for as many student loans as we did. Therefore, while I think it is good for kids to be accountable for investing in their own education, it is also not fair not to help if our income level disqualifies them for some loans. We have put 20K into each of our 4 kids college funds by the time they were 3 years old. Hopefully that will grow into at least enough to pay for their undergraduate educations. If they do not go to college, they do NOT get this money. I will also encourage them to apply for scholarships. They will be held responsible for some aspects of their college expenses so they don't goof off too much and waste the money.
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Old 09-07-2012, 04:16 PM   #153
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I think at least one other poster mentioned this as well, but we made it one of our conditions for helping them with school. We told them they could apply anywhere they wanted, but if they're accepted they'd have to realistically evaluate the package they're offered to see if it's an option. We can afford up to xx (in our case it was close to our FAFSA EFC and would cover a state school) and will support taking out up to 20K in loans, total. When they were evaluating their choices, they had to find a school that would fit within that or they knew we wouldn't financially support them going there, period.

They could still go, but we weren't going to enable them going somewhere we felt they couldn't afford.
We haven't put a firm number on it yet but likely will do the same when our kids are applying to college. As much as I would like, in theory, to be able to offer unconditional support and finance any dream school they might have in mind our reality comes from a far more practical place. I don't want the kids to mortgage their futures for a dream school only to end up having that debt dictating every other major decision of their young adult lives as it has for some of my friends. That college that seemed like the be-all, end-all at 18 doesn't look so good when they're 30 and worrying about if they can afford a house or a baby while still making their student loan payments.
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Old 09-07-2012, 04:17 PM   #154
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I agree with those of you who point out that retirement money is not so easily regained. Much easier for a young adult to pay off a few student loans rather than have parents who are destitute in their golden years.
I don't think either one of these options is better than the other.

Parents who mortgage their retirement (perhaps even literally) so that their kids can go to college are jeopardizing their golden years, and they don't have the years left to regain the magic of compound interest. These parents may find themselves forced into selling their homes and over-crowding their childrens' homes, or they may find themselves forced to choose between this necessity or that necessity. No one wants any of that.

However, young people who have "a few student loans" are going to face a different but equally negative set of challenges. They may be forced to move back home, postpone marriage or home ownership, or wait to begin saving for their own retirement. With those loans to pay, they may not have as many options available to them: The loans may remove the option of grad school, staying home with small children, etc. And these kids have to do it in a more difficult economy than we faced when we were their age. They may have more years in which to "make up the difference", but it's so much easier to accumulate a good retirement package for yourself if you start in your 20s -- loans pretty much mean the recent grad will give up those best years.

Yes, shoving the responsibility onto the kids' shoulders is absolutely easier for the parents, but is it the best option? The best option is to live beneath your means when the kids are young and begin saving. Then help the college student choose something that's within the family's means, even if it isn't the student's first choice. If that still isn't enough, you come to the really tough questions. Personally, if forced to do so, I'd look into splitting the difference in whatever way makes most sense -- I'd expect the student to make inexpensive choices AND I'd plan to work a few more years AND I'd expect the student to come up with some cash on his own.
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Because our generation (the parents) did live in the dorms and they didn't cost so much and we are a society that wants to give our kids MORE than we had not less.
And many people consider living in the dorms to be "the full college experience". It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that can't be had later in life. It is a great way to meet people, and it's a way to immerse yourself completely in your education.

And they aren't all as expensive as your kids' options. My daughter is LOVING living in the dorms, and her dorm + meal plan are a tad over $3,200 per semester. The dorm is $2000 of that ('cause she'd have to eat, no matter where she lives). She could've chosen to live at home and could've commuted to a nearby college; however, we would've spent almost the cost of the dorm on a car, maintenance, gas and parking.
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However, parents who can easily afford college (let's put aside the question of type of college and just say-local state school) and refuse are doing their children a huge disservice.
I don't personally know anyone who can "easily afford college". Lots of my friends (and I'm in this situation too) are able to write the check every semester, but they can do it because they made sacrafices year after year after year as the children were growing up. They lived in a house smaller than they could afford. They wore the same old jeans and the same old coat winter after winter. They drove the car a year longer than they really wanted to. But having the money now doesn't mean it was "easy" to accumulate it.
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Having generous intentions is one thing, abetting foolishness is another, and telling a 17 yo to "pick whatever school you want and we'll find a way to pay for it" is foolishness unless you are VERY well-off.
I agree. We gave our oldest some guidelines, and told her that everything would be much better financially if she chose within those borders: We told her to look at state schools in our own state. We told her that we can pay for four years (tuition, fees, dorm, meals), we will not pay for her to re-take failed classes, and we will provide a car when she's a junior and needs to do student nursing. She's responsible for books and supplies, meals and entertainment off campus, and -- when she takes a car to campus -- gas and parking. We told her we cannot fund the overseas semester that she wants, nor can we pay for more than four years (she does have a younger sister, and we wouldn't give her less than we're giving the first child).

This turned out very well for us. She didn't find the geographical restriction constraining; in fact, she fell in love with two schools that "fit the bill" and had a hard time choosing between them. She listened with attentive ears and completely bought into the concept that leaving school without the burden of debt was worth giving up the "anything you want" fantasy.
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Old 09-07-2012, 04:30 PM   #155
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If they do not go to college, they do NOT get this money.
That goes without saying! I've saved for their educations, but if they were NOT to go to college, they don't get the money -- not even for a good reason, like the downpayment on a house. If my oldest were to quit college or my youngest were to choose not to go, I'd hold the money in reserve for a while -- perhaps 'til they're 25 or so? -- and after that point I'd buy another time share or something else to enhance MY LIFE.

I'm willing to sacrafice so they can have a degree that'll support them and their families for the rest of their lives. I didn't do without things so that they could drive a tricked-out Mustang or so they could have a stupendous honeymoon.
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That college that seemed like the be-all, end-all at 18 doesn't look so good when they're 30 and worrying about if they can afford a house or a baby while still making their student loan payments.
Oh my, you are so right. So many of my students are in love-love-love with this or that college, and they don't really have a solid reason. Just today I asked one of my kids where she's applying, and she listed a couple schools but added, "What I really want is Alabama". We do not live in Alabama. Her parents did not go to school there. She has no family in the area. In fact, she has never set foot in the state of Alabama and is uncertain about what she wants to study. In reality, she's a lower-tier college type of girl -- the academics at any state's flagship school would be solidly beyond her ability. I asked her what attracted her to that particular dream school, and she looked at me like I"m the biggest idiot on the face of the earth as she replied, "Well, it's ALABAMA". Beyond "Roll Tide", she knows nothing about the school. Falling in love with an image, a fantasy, an idea is so 18-years old, and it's our job as parents to make sure they choose something realistic.
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Old 09-07-2012, 05:06 PM   #156
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Of course, but affording it is the key, now isn't it? A weeks' splurge at the Poly isn't likely to cost you as much as a car, let alone as much as a 30-yr mortgage debt, but splurging on a high-priced private college education can easily hit that threshhold.

The problem is that many people take on college debt that they cannot afford, telling themselves that it won't be all that difficult to repay the loans with the wonderful job that Junior will land the day after graduation. Problem is, assuming Jr. does manage to get a f/t job that quickly, if it pays a gross of $23K, a debt of $100K is going to take a LONG time to pay down.

All I am advocating here is being realistic about that. If you are going to have to go into debt to finance an education, you need to calculate the real probability of what it will realistically take to repay the debt in a reasonable period of time without living in near-poverty for the rest of your life.

For most Americans, a "why not?" splurge on the order of the cost of a house is something not to be entered into lightly, and in my case, not at all. I make a decent living, but I cannot afford that. My children won't be doing it on my dime, and I'm going to caution them against doing it on their own dimes, either.
Absolutely, I'm just making the case that you shouldn't judge that MSW candidate at Columbia, her Mom might be a Kennedy and Columbia might be a perfectly reasonable choice where no one in the family needs to stretch or take on debt (and making a living as a social worker really isn't the point, the living is made off the trust fund).
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Old 09-07-2012, 05:44 PM   #157
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Paying thousands and thousands of dollars that most kids and parents don't have just to experience dorm life seems crazy to me. But I guess that depends on what you value college to be....I tend to think it's for higher education and not a social life. I'd rather my kids stay local, work part time while in college and graduate without massive debt. Why is living at home so undervalued it seems?
It depends on where you live. In my family, I was the only one to go away to school. My brother and sisters stayed at home and went to private schools (all 4 year schools in the area are private). I went to a large well respected public school three hours from home. The thing is, my room & board plus tuition was about the same as their tuition.

I should also add that going to a large school offered many other advantages besides a great social life. For example, for my first job I was recruited on campus where as my siblings had very few job offers after an extended search in the area. Granted some of that was also due to the field I selected. (Information Technology)
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Old 09-07-2012, 08:56 PM   #158
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Mrs. Pete, glad to hear your daughter loves school! Which dorm is she in?
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Old 09-07-2012, 09:29 PM   #159
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I haven't read the entire thread, but, I wanted to share my experience. I am a physician. I was fortunate enough to be a National Merit Semi-finalist. My parents really didn't want me to go away to school, and so, I stayed at home and commuted during my undergraduate years. My parents let me stay at home, and fed me meals during my undergraduate years. They didn't pay anything at all toward my tuition and books, etc. I had multiple scholarships and grants during that time. As part of my financial aid package, I had a $400 student loan--that was all I borrowed for undergrad.

For medical school, I was on my own. I attended medical school during the 1980's. I borrowed money to pay tuition and books, but, since I was married, my husband and I lived on his income for living expenses. We took the city bus to work and school. My third year of medical school, I finally had to buy a car to use because I had to travel to other locations besides the medical school campus. I had to be at the hospitals early, usually 6:30 am, and would stay late, usually no earlier that 8pm. The buses didn't run reliably at those times, and the medical campus was still a several block walk to the nearest bus stop that was on my route. During this time, I didn't qualify for any subsidized loans, and so my interest rate was 12-14%. I had to start paying my loans after internship, and then my loan payment was more than my take home pay as a resident. I borrowed a total of $28,000 over the 4 years of medical school, and because of the high interest rates, I still owe over $7,000. I graduated in 1988. Now, because it was a variable rate loan, my interest rate is only 3% or so, and so, I am not in a hurry to pay it off.

My son is in 9th grade now, and, I don't want him to be my age and still owe student loans 25 years after graduation. I don't want him to owe more money for loan payments than he has after taxes. So, I have money saved for him, so that we can pay for his college. Obviously, we won't be able to pay for an expensive school, but, we live in a state that has a high quality state university system.

It was very good of my parents that they let me live at home while an undergraduate, and that they didn't make me pay room and board, although, if that had been the case, I might have moved out. Do I appreciate my education "more" because I paid for it largely on my own? It's hard to say. I have a very great appreciation, however, for the need to help my son pay for his education.
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Old 09-07-2012, 10:02 PM   #160
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My mom was blessed with having her college education paid for (that was wayyyyy back when, before it sky rocketed) and now she is passing that on to my sister and I. She's a public school teacher, and yet is able to do it, which I think is amazing.

My dad never paid a cent to support us either. I will never be able to thank her enough. She pays for tuition and board (I actually stayed in town to go to school, but she's paying for my apartment so I can learn to live on my own).
I do have to purchase my textbooks, and even that is so expensive! Right now my sister is in grad school to become a doctor of PT, and while my mother is paying for that right now, along with her apartment and expenses, that will have to be paid back. I hope to be able to pass down this gift to my children. She is actually the only of her siblings to be able to do this as well, which makes me feel even more blessed and proud of my mom.
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Old 09-08-2012, 08:00 AM   #161
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I agree with those of you who point out that retirement money is not so easily regained. Much easier for a young adult to pay off a few student loans rather than have parents who are destitute in their golden years.

I really think this idea that "college is for all" mentality is for the birds. While I fully realize that is a very controversial statement, I think it's true. Not all kids are cut out for college and not all parents can afford to foot the bill, or even 1/2 the bill. Telling your children that they can pick anywhere they want is ludicrous to me, and unrealistic. There's nothing wrong with going to community college for awhile. Just because it's not the full college experience shouldn't matter I think. Paying thousands and thousands of dollars that most kids and parents don't have just to experience dorm life seems crazy to me. But I guess that depends on what you value college to be....I tend to think it's for higher education and not a social life. I'd rather my kids stay local, work part time while in college and graduate without massive debt. Why is living at home so undervalued it seems?

Interesting article and the soaring price of average college tuition:

http://money.cnn.com/2011/06/13/news...lass/index.htm

Does the full "college experience" matter? Of course it does. Is it important, necessary and vital that every person experience it or they will be failures at life, horrible human beings, absolutely not. And it has almost nothing to do with holding a job.

Some schools value the dorm experience so much that you must live in one your freshman year - even if Mom and Dad live three blocks from school. Students who live on campus have higher graduation rates statistically than those who don't (although it isn't really that simple, its possible that they types of kids who live at home are just less likely to graduate).

For me, I see dorm life as a good place for kids to transition to independence. They still get fed. They aren't completely independent - and RA and their roommates should keep a minimal eye on them. (And I send my daughter off to camp for the same reason). And if they live far from home to go to school, they are forced to make new friends and create a break from their old lives (which can be really important if those friends didn't go to college).

But it IS expensive and out of reach for a lot of people.
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Old 09-08-2012, 09:53 AM   #162
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Our older DD went to a private university 70 miles away. Average tuition and room and board was $50,000 per year. She had scholarships for $32,000-to $35,00 the first 2 years, full tuition scholarship the last 2.

We had a small education IRA that my parents had set up for her, about $2,500, and used about $10,000 in I bonds that my mom gifted us in 2001 which had accumulated a fair amount of interest to help pay for the difference, and books, etc.

However, she did borrow about $22,000 over the years, mostly in the last year to take summer courses in Europe and to pay for the overage in the last year.

She worked part time throughout the 4 years to pay for her gas and fun money, including travel. We covered room and board in the dorm the first two years, and her portion of rent and utilities the last two (she tried to contribute to her rent some months but only was able to do that a few times). We also paid her car insurance. We were fortunate to be able to cover everything with disposable income, and did not take out any parent loans or borrow against our retirement.

It appears to have been a good investment as she has an internship in NYC that is transitioning into a full time position that she loves. She will be able to pay her loans.

Working throughout her college years seems to have gained her a good work ethic. Many of her peers from wealthy families did not work, so that irked her I am sure but she stuck it out.

She wants to go to grad school but that will have to be on her own dime. Our younger daughter is a high school junior and we are not getting any older. Hoping we keep our jobs going until 2018.
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Old 09-08-2012, 01:33 PM   #163
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I agree with those of you who point out that retirement money is not so easily regained. Much easier for a young adult to pay off a few student loans rather than have parents who are destitute in their golden years.

I really think this idea that "college is for all" mentality is for the birds. While I fully realize that is a very controversial statement, I think it's true. Not all kids are cut out for college and not all parents can afford to foot the bill, or even 1/2 the bill. Telling your children that they can pick anywhere they want is ludicrous to me, and unrealistic. There's nothing wrong with going to community college for awhile. Just because it's not the full college experience shouldn't matter I think. Paying thousands and thousands of dollars that most kids and parents don't have just to experience dorm life seems crazy to me. But I guess that depends on what you value college to be....I tend to think it's for higher education and not a social life. I'd rather my kids stay local, work part time while in college and graduate without massive debt. Why is living at home so undervalued it seems?

Interesting article and the soaring price of average college tuition:

http://money.cnn.com/2011/06/13/news...lass/index.htm
Excellent post. Parents need to realize or jog their memory about what the "college experience" entails most of the time. Namely, binge drinking, dealing with a psycho roommate in a closet of a room, and skipping class because you're too hungover. Even the "good" kids do this stuff.

I think all college students should be expected to work, even part time, and help with expenses. They are adults at this point, after all. And, many of these schools are charging thousands based on a name on a sweatshirt.

I would not put myself into unmanageable debt so little Suzy can have the college "experience". Suzy can go to a good school that she will receive a good education in and she can work to at least put money towards textbooks and other expenses. And if her first year of grades suck, she's on her own after that point.
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Old 09-08-2012, 02:24 PM   #164
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Excellent post. Parents need to realize or jog their memory about what the "college experience" entails most of the time. Namely, binge drinking, dealing with a psycho roommate in a closet of a room, and skipping class because you're too hungover. Even the "good" kids do this stuff.
Yep, that is the college experience
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Old 09-08-2012, 03:00 PM   #165
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It isn't that it's undervalued, it is that in some situations, it isn't optimal.

My eldest NEEDS to go away to school. If he had the choice he would live at home with us forever; he likes his comfort zone way too much. Living away at school is a good way to ease into living independently, and he needs that. We prefer that he goes somewhere that is at least a 3 hour drive away, so that he won't be tempted to try to come home at the drop of a hat.

It isn't about friends at all; it's about learning to stand on your own two feet without Mom and Dad.
I am looking at the same situation. I've been mulling over pushing DS to live on campus even if he does decide to go the local college that he's interested in. He is going to a local community college to start out but then he needs to shift to a big college and hopefully also learn to be independent when he does that.

It will be costly though. I hope to pay for as much as possible and then we'll go from there.
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