It’s time to stop thinking of college as a right and start to realize it’s a major purchase!

Don't let student loan debt weigh you down

Don’t let student loan debt weigh you down

It’s that time of year when families are anxiously awaiting college acceptance letters for their kids!

I know because we have been waiting as well. It’s an exciting (and stressful) time for these young adults and their parents as they await the ‘word’ about their child’s future.

Most families have made sure that their children have submitted to multiple schools to ensure that they are given at least two or more options to ultimately sit down and finally consider in the end. The hardest part is the ‘aftermath’ of the letters? CHOSING!

For some it may not be an issue but for the average American family today, the cost of college has risen so high that the choice should not be easy. It should be a calculated decision process with finances being one of the leading factors. Why? Because the average college student today graduates with $30,000-40,000 of student loan debt. And that’s the ‘average’. Some graduate with loans in the range of $80,000-100,000! This is debt that will weigh them down and delay them from starting a family, saving money, or buying a house. And remember, if they meet their ‘special someone’ during or shortly after college, the odds are that their ‘special someone” has a similar scenario! Multiply by 2 and these young adults are starting their adult lives shackled by $80,000-200,000 of student loan debt to pay back!

I meet with many families who feel they MUST allow their young adult their first college of choice, however when considering which college to chose many things can and should be considered/discussed before the final decision is made.

You might think college can’t be done without debt, but Rachel Cruze, Dave Ramsey’s spitfire daughter, begs to differ. “I believe the two keys to graduating debt free are pretty simple: hard work and preparation,” Rachel says. She shares the secret to making it happen in a new book she wrote with her dad called SMART MONEY SMART KIDS. Here are a few of the highlights she suggests you consider:

  • Choose a College the family CAN afford: It’s time to stop thinking of college as a right and start to realize it’s a major purchase. Treat it like one and shop around. In-state public universities offer a great education for a fraction of the cost of out-of-state or private schools. Kids can save even more by knocking out their first two years of prerequisites at a local community college then transferring to a state university to complete their last two years- If they want to be a graduate of a school they can attend in year 3-4 and BE a graduate of that school.
  • Apply for Scholarships and Grants: Senior year gives Junior the opportunity to earn free money by applying for scholarships and grants. And he doesn’t have to be a straight-A student to take home the prize. Dig deep and you’ll find all sorts of opportunities to save a buck. Encourage Junior to start early and submit as many applications as possible. A little hard work on the front end pays off in the long run!
  • Get a Job: If you think Junior’s grades will suffer if he works his way through college, think again. A part-time job could actually help! Research shows that students who work 10–19 hours a week have higher GPAs on average than those who don’t. Being financially invested in his own education just might be what Junior needs to kick it into high gear and graduate in four years!

If you need assistance with getting your financial budget in shape before you broach the issue of college OR if you are already feeling the burden of tuition payments that were added to your budget, I can help!