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The Money Prof
Wednesday, October 1 2014
How Much Should I Pay For MY Child's College Education?The financial costs of rearing a child can be overwhelming. When one factors in the daily expenses, both discretionary and non-discretionary, coupled with the costs of higher education, we can be talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars. Do we owe a college education to our kids? Are we responsible for the costs of tuition, living expenses, books and so on as we have been through primary and secondary schools? My response is no! However, I believe it our responsibility to assist and provide guidance to our children, even as they move on in years. Since, college is such a high priced item, families must plan for this expenditure. A realistic approach must be taken, based upon family income, student's desire to attend college, and potential future income from the college experience.
To pay for all direct and indirect costs of college may not be the best idea, even if families can easily afford the cost. Students should have some skin in the game. Paying for the entire academic side of college is fine and makes life easy for students, but paying also for all the social aspects of college, may be a bit too much. If you want your kids to understand independence, give them some responsibility through college. If at a later date, after they mature and understand the world a little better, you can help them pay off their loans (but do not tell them you will be doing that while in college). I have always said that there are good loans and bad loans. Education loans are good because the best investment is in oneself. The average student graduating with a baccalaureate degree owes $26,500. This represents approximately 60% of college students. This amount of debt may seem high at first, but given a student's future long-term employment earning power (even for the average student), monthly payments can be affordable. The problem today is that many students incur too much debt while attending college. My advice is to select accredited institutions that have competitive pricing. Attending community colleges for the first two (or even more) years and then transferring credits into a 4-year institution is a good strategy for some. Another strategy would be to take online courses at various schools. Whatever the cost, parents and students should have a plan that is fair and understandable. Put aside the guilt, your children will still love and appreciate you, even if you cannot pay for all their education.
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