How Can You Plan for College Costs?
The new reality of COVID-19 has led families to consider college costs in a different light than before. Parents are questioning the “value” of a college education when it does not include the “college experience” outside of the classroom. But even if you intend to send your child to community college, apprenticeship or a trade school, there will be costs involved.
I asked my friend, George Wislar, a partner at Princeton Global Asset Management in Mercer County, New Jersey to talk with me about planning for college costs. George has over 30 years of experience in wealth management, life coaching and financial planning, He has helped families to discover and implement strategies to help them cover college costs.
We covered a few issues that you might not hear about on other sites, such as:
- Why it does not pay to sacrifice to cover college costs for a “brand name” school
- The disadvantages of using 529 plans to save for college
- Whether it pays to borrow, given that interest rates on Federal Student Loans will drop below three percent
George’s expertise nicely complements the knowledge that a college admissions advisor can bring to the table about college costs. Sometimes college is the best option to lead to a rewarding career. It can help you to start and sustain a network that leads to more rewards. And yes, many brand name schools have strong networks. But so do other schools that will cost much less.
Sometimes colleges will not be the best option. That’s especially true for someone who does not like to learn by sitting in a chair and listening to a lecture. There are colleges that offer hands-on learning experience. But they do not come early at many schools.
In addition to listening to George and myself, please consider these points about college costs:
No matter where you learn, there will always costs to helping your child.
Think about every expense that you make while your child is at home. It might be an allowance for clothes and entertainment, gas, health insurance, fees for sports and extracurricular activities. Most of these expenses will continue when your child is in college.
There are limits on how your child will be able to cover college costs by working.
The greatest limit is time. While a college student is not in class as long as a high school student, more time is required for studying and completing homework assignments. It might have been easy for your child to work while in high school and still get good grads. But college professors are likely to expect more effort and grade harder.
Colleges will ask you to cover costs that you did not need to cover before.
Chances are that your high school supplied books and computers for your child’s classes, and never sent a bill. Your child will come home, and you need to consider transportation. Its good to know in advance what those costs are likely to be for the freshman year and probably the year after. College sophomores and juniors also interview for internships, so they might need help with finding suitable business attire.
While some schools have committed to freezing tuition, fees and other costs will go up.
I have run into some schools that promise to hold tuition at freshman year charges. Miami University of Ohio, as one example, goes further and freezes all charges for four years. But most schools will ask you to pay more each year. Some might have a tuition “bump” after your child declares a major such as Business or Engineering. Typically, tuition and fees will rise between three and five percent each year. Room and board could go up or down depending on the costs for on and off-campus housing as well as your child’s culinary skills.
Please listen to this conversation between George and myself. Within our roles we have worked with many families who have been in your shoes.
Need help on the journey to college? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 609-406-0062.
Want to know more about me? Check out these podcasts!
Listen to my talk, College Is A Learning AND Living Community, hosted by Dr. Cynthia Colon from Destination YOUniversity on Voice of America Radio!
Listen to my talk, What Exactly Is a Good College? hosted by test-prep experts Amy Seeley and Mike Bergin on Tests And The Rest!