College: attending, paying for, etc.

Blue&White
Posts: 3491
Joined: Sat Aug 12, 2017 10:01 am

College: attending, paying for, etc.

Postby Blue&White » Sun Dec 16, 2018 8:34 pm

We stick so much in the Random Thoughts thread I feel things just get lost. So, making an effort to start topic specific threads here and there.

Anyway, my son heard from the last outstanding school he applied to today, and he got in. He applied to 4 schools and he got into 4 schools. Now we are down to decisions. He's leaning towards the one he heard from today - West Chester University. WCU has the advantage of being both the most expensive school he applied to and being the least likely to offer him money (which I may be wrong about, but I don't think so).

He says he wants to go back and see it again before he makes a decision, and he really wants an opportunity to talk to someone in the Biology department and hear about their approach. We had that kind of session with most all the other schools we toured, but WCU didn't give us that option for some reason. So, I'm going to call this week and see if we can't set something up.

Anyway, here is my dilemma - do I wait and see who offers him what (if anything) and push him towards the school that will have the cheapest total cost? Or, do I let him go where he wants, pay as much as I can in cash and let him take out loans for the difference (which I will help pay down)? If he goes to, say, Bloomsburg, I think he will likely get some money and I can pay almost the whole thing in cash. I may have to borrow some, maybe $5k a year, but if he comes out of college owing $20k which he can pay off over 20 years, that's really not that big a deal.

WCU isn't crazy expensive, but, all in, it can be close to $30k. Bloomsburg, on the other hand, would probably come in under 20k when you factor in money he would get.

What is everyone else doing or did you do? I am really interested in opinions here.
Baseball season!!!!

psu_dad
Posts: 2053
Joined: Sun Aug 13, 2017 6:59 pm

Re: College: attending, paying for, etc.

Postby psu_dad » Sun Dec 16, 2018 9:57 pm

I told my sons when they were in HS that I would pay for whatever college they chose. I offered my counsel, but beyond that made no attempt to influence their decision. The two conditions I had were that (a) the offer would be rescinded if they didn't maintain good grades in college and (b) they were expected to work full-time in the Summer for spending money. I was financing tuition, room & board, not beer & pizza.

That wouldn't necessarily be my advice. I did that for personal reasons, not practical ones. In the end it worked out fine, although it did cost me a penny or two.
Fire Alex Cora

Blue&White
Posts: 3491
Joined: Sat Aug 12, 2017 10:01 am

Re: College: attending, paying for, etc.

Postby Blue&White » Sun Dec 16, 2018 10:09 pm

I can't get over what college costs. It's insane. And, I think I'll let him go where he wants and figure it out. I've already told my wife to assume no vacations for a few years, other than seeing her parents in Florida (we can visit Shore while we're there). But, no matter how I crunch the numbers I can't come up with a way to pay the whole thing in cash up front.

He's going to end up with some debt. My goal is to keep it 40k or under, and 20k would be better.
Baseball season!!!!

Crowbar
Posts: 879
Joined: Sun Aug 27, 2017 12:54 pm

Re: College: attending, paying for, etc.

Postby Crowbar » Mon Dec 17, 2018 5:19 am

The thought of how I am going to pay for college keeps me up at night.

Any tips? Are 529s worth it?
National Champions 1911, 1912, 1969, 1981, 1982, 1986, 1994

Blue&White
Posts: 3491
Joined: Sat Aug 12, 2017 10:01 am

Re: College: attending, paying for, etc.

Postby Blue&White » Mon Dec 17, 2018 7:05 am

In case I was too subtle before allow me to be more direct: I have no clue how to cover the costs.

In seriousness, we have 529s but did not put nearly enough away. It wasn't from lack of interest, just means. What killed us was my wife going for her Master's degree. I spent as much on that as we will on college and I'm still paying that off.

I'm fortunate in that I get bonuses. So, I can use my bonus money each year to cover a chunk of it. But, I'm still going to have to borrow some.

I'm within the top 8% of earners in the US. I don't live in a McMansion, I don't spend a fortune on cars or big vacations, and we eat in most nights. And yet I'm scrambling to figure out how to pay for college. There is something really wrong with this system.
Baseball season!!!!

psu_dad
Posts: 2053
Joined: Sun Aug 13, 2017 6:59 pm

Re: College: attending, paying for, etc.

Postby psu_dad » Mon Dec 17, 2018 7:28 am

Hard to believe that a system conceived of by the pinheads in Washington DC could go so wrong.
Fire Alex Cora

psu_dad
Posts: 2053
Joined: Sun Aug 13, 2017 6:59 pm

Re: College: attending, paying for, etc.

Postby psu_dad » Mon Dec 17, 2018 7:55 am

Any tips?

I saw Suze Orman on PBS the other night. The local station was having a fundraiser. They had Orman give a Q&A and they pimped her books and DVDs in return.

Nothing profound, but she did say one thing that was identical to advice I received from a financial planner when my sons were in grade school. That advice was to forget saving for college unless you had the luxury to do so. Maximizing your tax-free retirement savings was MUCH more important. Ridding yourself of debt was MUCH more important. When your first child is born, you shouldn't open up a 529 if you haven't already converted to a 15-year mortgage, If there's money left over after getting your finances in order, fine, contribute to a 529. The theory being that if your finances are solid when the time comes, if you're nearly debt-free, then borrowing for college won't be as daunting. And you'll be in a better position to help out.

It's good advice, but it's probably "easier said than done" for many people.
Fire Alex Cora

Blue&White
Posts: 3491
Joined: Sat Aug 12, 2017 10:01 am

Re: College: attending, paying for, etc.

Postby Blue&White » Mon Dec 17, 2018 8:30 am

Given the debt rates in this country, I suspect it's daunting for most people.

I've done all I can. We have a 15 year mortgage at 3.5%. fixed. I can't do any better than that. My wife's student loans are under control and I've been over paying on them. I am in the process of refinancing them for 10 years. The amount I'll pay once I refinance is lower than what I currently pay each month (including the ~$100 a month I over pay). If I don't refinance, I'll be out in maybe 11 years. If I do, I'm out in 10, worst case. If I continue to over pay a little bit, I can get out earlier, obviously. So, that's a no-brainer. I live within my means the best that I can.

Paying for college is going to hurt. It's obviously going to come at the expense of other things. But, while I'm willing to let me sons come out of college with some debt, I wont' allow it to be crushinig. $40k is the maximum I can live with, and over 20 years that is very maneagable to pay back. Even more so if I help.
Baseball season!!!!

Crowbar
Posts: 879
Joined: Sun Aug 27, 2017 12:54 pm

Re: College: attending, paying for, etc.

Postby Crowbar » Tue Dec 18, 2018 5:27 am

psu_dad wrote:Hard to believe that a system conceived of by the pinheads in Washington DC could go so wrong.


And no one there will bother trying to fix it until the student debt thing becomes a national, economy crippling catastrophe.

As much flak as Millenials get, in a way I feel sorry for them. How can they be expected to move out of their parents' house and get ahead when they are over $100k in student debt and only have a $30k/year job to show for it?
National Champions 1911, 1912, 1969, 1981, 1982, 1986, 1994

Nittany Flier
Posts: 32
Joined: Mon Aug 14, 2017 9:06 am

Re: College: attending, paying for, etc.

Postby Nittany Flier » Tue Dec 18, 2018 7:10 am

A few months ago, I asked my grandson if he was looking at colleges yet. He said his top picks were PSU (to his sister's chagrin), Bucknell, MIT, and Stanford. He is a pretty smart kid but these are some lofty picks. I told him he would need to beat his dad's SAT scores. His dad had a 1400. Well he just received his results and scored a 1540. Needless to say I am extremely proud of him. I don't where he will end up but outside PSU the bill will daunting.