You’re Holding Me Back
Luke has much to be proud of. A stellar GPA and test scores, top 5% of his class, balanced with an active extracurricular load and awards. With the availability of websites like www.parchment.com, he knew the probability of admittance at some of the elite schools he was interested in – and it was good. His friends are all high achievers, and many are looking at – and are likely to attend – schools on Luke’s wish list. However, I knew that these same schools were not going to offer academic/merit based awards (because they do not have to really – there are plenty of applicants willing to pay full price); and their total cost per year ranges between $45,000 -$60,000, which was beyond our financial reach.
We will not be eligible for need-based aid. My husband and I have had the good fortune of being employed, and we have some savings; the plight of the middle class when it comes to college – we’re not wealthy, but we’re financially stable and the need-based financial aid (grants, not loans) is designed for families who are really struggling. We do not want to take out extensive loans in our name; and we do not want to co-sign extensive loans in our son’s name. Why start off life after college with tens of thousands of dollars in debt? There is just no way a young person can have the perspective of having the burden of a monthly payment of $200, $500, $1000, or more…for a 10-year period.
Early on, we set a financial threshold for Luke, the third of our four sons to attend college, of $25,000/year (for four years) and he would take out a $5ooo.00 loan in his name per year (to have some “skin in the game”). This budget supports the cost of our state colleges, and with the academic awards some of the private schools are awarding to Luke during the admission process, meets that cost also. He has many, many choices available to him with this financial plan.
We believe that success is dependent on the individual, not the institution they attend. Luke ultimately recanted (a bit) on his point of view; he is appreciative, but he is also very competitive. We believe in balancing a wise financial decision – and a responsibility to model that to our children – along with our desire to provide an excellent education. However, I also know that there are some parents who would agree with Luke. If your child has worked hard, has the social maturity and academic ability to be accepted at Yale (or Stanford or Harvard) shouldn’t you do everything possible to send him there? Mortgage the house? Withdraw retirement savings? Take out hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans? What do you think?
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