Paying for College I

This is Chapter I in what is likely to be multiple posts on financing a college education. You see, my son is a senior, and one of the top students in his class. He’s performed extremely well on they myriad of college tests, and, in a nutshell, wants to be educated at some of the top colleges in the nation, where he will likely be accepted.

Paying for it is another matter. To be frank about it, it scares the shit out of me. As I mumble to myself and whine to my wife, “I just don’t have that kind of money…“, especially with a daughter two years behind my son. And she has similar capabilities and dreams.

Let me stop the rant here and be grateful that I have two amazing children. Both are bright, healthy, A students, with lofty dreams. Everything a parent would want and then some.

How to pay for it, though. My son and I spent Sunday morning working through the maze of financial aid forms, responding to a myriad of repetitious questions about my income, my son’s income, the family assets on a variety of forms to be completed both on the web and on paper. And don’t forget to send in those IRS 1040 forms so that we can prove we aren’t really lying about all this. Get out your credit card, while you’re at it, because this one financial profile which is similar to the free one is required by several colleges and it’ll set you back $18 to send it to each college. And $5 for a setup fee. And when you get to the end of the form, they’ll be more than glad to forward this information to some of “their favored lenders” who can help you acquire a college loan. No thanks.

I suppose that what they do is take all this information, divide it by the square root of Pi, subtract your uncle’s car payment, multiply it by the cube of the speed of light in meters per second and come up with a figure that you can afford to pay a year for your kid’s college education. I talked to a tennis partner on Saturday who has a similar aspiring daughter and discovered the number he got was higher than the national debt.

Let’s be rational about this. Not as high as the national debt, but the college expense is going to be high enough to put these amazing students of ours in debt.

Something is wrong here. When the future of a country in its bright children, gets that future saddled in debt. Where’s the investment?

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One response to “Paying for College I

  1. Neal, thanks for stopping by my blog. This is, of course, a subject with which I am very familiar. I have loved the whole going off to college process. It does sound like your son will have a whole lot of choices, and while the Financial Aid process is daunting (FAFSA being a complete nightmare), I’ve found the Us do a pretty amazing job of making it possible for good students (and even the just average ones) to get their education. They do not all have to graduate saddled with huge loans. The really strong students get merit aid and grants too. I would be happy to discuss this further in private at soph_mom@yahoo.com. In fact, if you’re interested I will bring you into a private forum originally established to discuss exactly this (although we talk about all sorts of other stuff too). 🙂

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