An article by BudgetQueen
Kids are great fun. They are unpredictable. They are naïve but sharp. They are completely lazy some times while completely motivated other times. You will be proud one day and then the next say, “What were they thinking?”
When I look back at my friends who went to college, I see a wide variety of personalities. I saw kids whose parents paid for everything party like the end of the world was a few days away. I also saw the kids whose parents that were not able to help them out, get through school quickly and pay off his or her student loans within a few years.
I believe that emotional support from the parent has as much, if not more to do with whether or not a child stays in school, than financial support.
That being said…let’s work on both…
Be realistic about the sticker price
I like to think back from my goals to how I am going to get there. This means the hardest part — taking a few seconds to understand what it will cost. Then we will try to shave that number down with some "tricks of the trade."
They say that the average price of a 4-year degree at an in-state university now costs $15,000 – 20,000 a year ($45,000 – 60,000 for the degree). That amount seems like a lot even for the well-prepared parent with the large savings account.
Now that we have discussed the amount, it is time to look at things that will take a little stress off of you as you get to graduation day.
This kid is already invested!
Take a look around at the investments that you have already made in his or her future. You encouraged her to be good at sports and she shows promise in swimming, softball and/or soccer. Wait, didn’t you say that your kid loves math? Or didn’t they win the Science exhibit in the 5th grade? Didn’t your kid play Ben Volio in the school’s production of “Romeo and Juliet?”
Anything that shows promise could be a skill that will help them get a scholarship. You may want to consider looking at the schools that offer scholarships of that very nature. Do you think that they are not out there for your kid’s obscure talent? Think again! My 13-year old is fascinated by filmmaking. We already eliminated the $60,000 a year school in California and instead are focusing on the $20,000 a year state university.
Look for the shortcuts
When talking to my kid’s guidance counselor, we first heard of a program in the high school he will be attending that allows him to take credits for college. So if everything goes correctly, when he graduates from high school he could have an Associate’s Degree. How cool is that? But then I remember my kid is the one who loves his “down time,” forgets a large assignment until the night before it is due, and who loves to hang out with his friends. How on earth will I convince him to do all of this? It is still something nice to keep in mind and if he does at least attempt it, then we are that much farther in the game.
Lastly, don’t completely rule out community college. In fact, I have an Associate’s Degree from a junior college. I had some great teachers and I learned a lot. A lot of my best friends went there as well. I went on to get my Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree at two separate universities, but I am grateful for the first two years I had closer to home.
The scholarships your school offers
My kid’s school offers a scholarship for maintaining a certain grade average for any college or university in the state. The kid with all A’s gets the largest scholarship, but the kid with a B average gets a scholarship too. Your kid’s school may have those programs as well.
We are almost there. The last part is a list of some of the brightest things many parents I know are doing to get the kid’s focused on college.
Please read “Help! I don’t have any money saved up for my kid’s college: Part Three”