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college costs

July 31st, 2018 at 07:34 pm

The US is becoming a place where it's impossible to move up and down the spectrum of wealth. Studies who it's becoming harder and harder and that if you don't have help from your parents it's not a place you can make yourself a success no matter what.

As my kids age I hear more and more concern from other parents about college costs. Many have kids who are older and their youngest is 8. They say they are still paying on their loans or just finishing but now they are going to try and pay for their kids.

This is insanity. I'm not sure How people think if they are still paying for their college they can afford to pay for their child's?

One friend in particular her daughter is starting college this fall and she has two more 6 and 8. She just got a job to pay $1-2k/month college fees/books, etc. Her daughter will live at home and go to university. I asked her if she has any retirement savings and the answer was no. I said perhaps she should consider it because she's 43. She said but if I don't then how will she go to school? What about the younger ones?

I sat there unable to answer. Because the truth of the matter is that what is the answer? She probably should save for retirement, but if she doesn't help her daughter how will her daughter manage the school loans? What then?

6 Responses to “college costs”

  1. creditcardfree Says:

    I'll give the mom credit for getting a job to pay for college and attempting to cash flow the costs. Potentially no debt!

    But saving for her retirement should always be before paying for college, in my opinion.

    Honestly sometimes the answer is you can't go to college now. But there are many options, take out loans, work study (student does some work while attending to school to pay for college), go to a less expensive school (community college, trade school), student and parent work for a year or two to save significant money for the education. One does not have to have all the money saved up at the start of college life.

    And why can't she start saving for retirement by sending 40-50% of her pay to an Roth and apply additional money to costs and take out student loans for the rest. That is far better than taking loans out for the full amount.

    My friend's son came out of college with $85K in debt, in his and the parent's names. And my friend I think is still paying on her husband's school loans. Son (theatre major), husband (civil engineering). One has paid off, the other is yet to be seen.

  2. Smallsteps Says:

    I just do not understand the mindset of having zero retirement by the time someone is even 40. As for school you can get a school loan but you cant borrow for retirement.
    It depends a lot on ones major or what they want to do. I can not tell you how many friends I have that quite frankly wasted a lot of money and ended up doing something not remotely close to their major. I think the whole system needs to be reevaluated as mostly colleges and universities are just a big ole money pit.

  3. Wink Says:

    She really should be focusing on retirement saving first. And I also applaud her for getting a job to help with finances. Looks like her kids are all school age now so even a part time job can really help. I work at a community college. It's a great way to get 2 years under your belt for a fraction of the cost of universities and get an excellent education. There are affordable choices!

  4. AnotherReader Says:

    I thought Justin over at Root of Good, an early retirement blog, nailed the college cost issue for his three kids.

    Junior college then transfer, live at home, take the required lower division general education classes in high school, work during the summer, take an RA job, all good ideas.

  5. LuckyRobin Says:

    Well, for one thing, parents get into a lot of these issues by letting their children decide what school they are going to go to. Sorry, no. You go to the local community college for 2 years and then the most local state university for the rest and live at home. Unless you are going to be a doctor or a lawyer, you don't need to go to your dream school. You just need to go to school. Raise them with this idea. And the idea that they need to get a useful degree. They can minor in something stupid if they want to, but they need to major in something that will actually land them a job, preferably a good job with good growth in income potential.

    Raise them with the idea that after high school they will get a job and work for two years while living at home and saving most of their income, while the parents contribute by letting them stay rent free and fed for free. At a fast food job in my state you can earn between $11 and $13 an hour (day shift/night shift), which means you will earn at least $1200 a month take home pay. If you save $1000 a month in two years you will have $24,000. Some fast food jobs, like McDonalds also do some tuition reimbursement based on hours you've worked if you sign up for that program. That will more than pay for your associate's degree at a community college. You continue to work at least part time while going to school those two years and bank all you can. If you get a useful degree, like in business, you can get a better paying job then fast food.

    Then after getting your AS or AA you take some time off school and you work full time again. You save up enough money to continue your education. And then you repeat. It's not impossible, it's just not as "easy" as applying for financial aid that will put you in debt for 30 years.

    Another option is a local technical college. It is generally cheaper than community college. Our local tech college offers many two year degrees in high demand trades like electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, architecture, business, office management, accounting, computer science (including computer security, a high demand field), and will as of next fall be offering a B.A. in engineering. They also offer 6 month certificates in welding, HVAC repair, car mechanics, machine shop, refrigeration repair, etc. With a welding certificate you can make $40K a year, which if mostly saved for a few years you could then use to go to a university and pay for it in full. Or you could take the 2 year welding degree and start out in the $80K range and build towards $150k a year, which is way more than most university graduates ever make.

    You could go to plumbing school and get paid way more than other people because no one wants to deal with all the waste that is produced and fix the items that contain that waste, and so plumbers can charge a premium, especially in an emergency situation. Good plumbers make more than doctors.

    People can join the military and serve their time and then get their education through the GI bill. Kids can join job corps and get training. There are a couple of accredited distance learning programs that you can get an AA or AS through and they are much less expensive. You can do one class at a time at your speed. You pay for the class up front then when you complete that one you can take the next class, again paying for it up front. They also have pay as you go plans for the full program if you want to be taking classes full time. There is even one accredited accelerated college 4 year degree program that I know of. Classes are 7 weeks long instead of a trimester.

    So it is only impossible if you aren't willing to look at other alternatives. But most people are lazy and unwilling to put that much effort into it and that's why they will never be free of college debt. Starting out your career debt free is worth sacrificing for. You may not get to live the "college life" this way, you will be too busy studying and working, but then the college lifestyle has ruined a lot of kids, who end up dropping out because they partied too hard to not flunk out, and guess what? Those loans will still be there waiting for them, too.

    There is no reason to come out of college with a ton of debt unless you are going to be a doctor or a lawyer or something of that caliber.

  6. livingalmostlarge Says:

    Really good ideas. I also wonder if she shouldn't save for retirement and instead help with college loans after school? That way maybe she save for retirement maximum then cash flow the loans if she's making more money? Is that stupid to expect to pay your child's loans?

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