"For Students Only"
Either total devastation as you realize that you can’t go to your dream school that you’ve worked so hard to get into.
Too many families only look at the academic and social fit. The financial fit is a bigger part of the decision. Over one trillion dollars of student debt in the USA did not come from “best fit” universities. It came from making uninformed decisions.
Taking Emotion Out of the Decision
In the fictional video to your right you will meet Michael, a college-hopeful who seems to be stuck with his decision to attend his local “state school”. As you journey with him through his freshman year experiences you will see that there are always other options out there.
Start Talking – the 3 step process
When it’s time to look for a car, you don’t go shopping without a budget in mind. You don’t test drive your dream car only to discover what it will cost afterwards. In the same way, having the college money talk with your parents before you start going for the test drives (college visits) keeps everybody on the same page (at least in the same book). Schedule a time to have “The Talk” with your parents. Put it on the calendar or it won’t happen!
Sit down with your parents, seriously look at the facts, and answer these questions.
- How much have you saved “for my college (and your siblings)”? Sadly, many parents have NO money set aside for college.
- How much can we add to the college savings account before school starts?
- How much will you be responsible for? Would you have to borrow for that?
- Understand how much you can borrow each year as a student. It’s probably much less than you think. $5,000 for most freshman at a 4-year college or university…$7,500 as a senior.
- Do you qualify for Need-based aid? Start with the FAFSA4caster to figure out your family’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC) at FAFSA.ed.gov
- How much will college cost? It’s not difficult to get the figures for your in-state options. Just go to the website of the college and search for Cost of Attendance.
- Will you qualify for significant Merit-Based Scholarships (at least half tuition) based on your hard work (GPA, SAT or ACT)?
- How much will college cost…really?
- What is your 4 to 6 year plan? Most students take more than 4 years to graduate from college. According to The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center Signature Report, the current projection for in-state universities is 5.1 years for an undergraduate degree.