Paying for College II

On May 27, 2007, my son Joshua will graduate from Anderson High School, very likely first in his class. Unless he really screws up AP English, not his strong suit.

Allow me, as the proud father, to brag on my son. Probably #1 in his class of 379, National Merit Scholarship Finalist, top SAT scores, perfect 800 on his Physics SAT, and simply an amazingly bright, gifted, and personable young man. In the fall he will attend either Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh or Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. Both are great schools and a good fit for Josh. He will likely soar in either academic setting.

But holy moly, Batman! Annual tuition and expenses upwards of $40,000 and rising. And were we surprised to discover that no matter what the academic credentials, no scholarship money was available. Sorry, nothing for being a National Merit Scholarship Finalist. And thanks to my wonderful clients, Watzman Associates had one of its best years ever! Good for the business, good for Uncle Sam, bad for paying for college. Seems that I don’t need any money to cover those kind of college expenses.

So, since business has been good, we’ve saved for college, not spent all our money on stuff, and have little debt, we’re going to pay, and pay serious money for college. Not to worry, give us a couple years, our family as well as Joshua will be much further in debt. Like most of the rest of those living in our “consumer society”.

Something is wrong here. We figured our son would get some type of scholarship money, but it didn’t happen. Certainly, Josh could have picked more affordable schools. But he will thrive on either of these campuses. And being a National Merit Scholarship Finalist, he’s one of about 15,000 students in these United States to achieve that status out of over a million taking the test. Were he not a top scholar, and a top athlete, it’s likely he’d get a free ride at a school of his choosing. But his gifts are intellectual, and not nearly as desirable to the college of your choice as those with athletic prowess.

It’s a tough decision. Wanting our son to spread his wings and thrive without breaking the family piggy bank or loading a 21 year-old college graduate with enough debt that he’d be paying it back for the rest of his life. Tough call, folks.

Stay tuned…


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