Rob says: Our daughter is a senior in high school. Even though Heather and I both work, I am afraid that we won’t have the income sufficient to pay for her college tuition and costs.
I paid for my own college education with part-time jobs, and I think our daughter should be able to do the same.
I realize that times have changed and college is more expensive now than it was 25 years ago. But, I am not willing to take on debt at this age – she has years to pay off her loans, we do not.
Heather says: Rob went to college in a time when it was possible to pay for it with a student job and maybe a little help from his parents. Rob knows that times have changed, but keeps singing the same old tune: “If I did it, she can do it!”
Marsha is our only child. She has always been a good kid, taking on little jobs in high school to pay for a young girl’s needs. But no way is she in a position to fully pay for a college education.
I think we owe it to our daughter to help her out by signing Parent-Plus or other loans to help cover the cost of her higher education.
If Rob and I do not provide financial help, then it’s no college for Marsha!
What do they do?
The bigger question here is not about college, but about Rob and Heather’s shared vision of parenting and financial planning – two of the issues that often cause trouble in marriages. This is a good time for them to sit down together and take stock. They need to ask themselves:
— What kind of lifestyle are we living?
— What are our retirement goals? (You may want to meet with a financial planner if you have not done so.)
— What do we think our financial obligations are to our child? “For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be” (Matthew 6:21).
— Do we want to fund her education? Make time to pray together so that you are allowing God to guide you in all your decisions. “But if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God” (James 1:5).
If Rob and Heather decide that they will help Marsha with college expenses, sit down now with your daughter and begin planning.
The short answer to this dilemma is research as if it all depends on you, and pray as if it all depends on God.
College costs have skyrocketed in recent years, and student loan debt has risen along with them. There is a dizzying array of financing options available – enough to overwhelm any parent. Welcome to the world of FAFSA!
Educate yourselves about what is available to students.
Many colleges offer financial aid packages, and federal student aid can take the form of outright grants, loans to the student (rather than the parents) or work-study, which provides part-time employment. Parent-Plus loans, which allow the parents to borrow money for their child’s education, are another option.
Compare college costs. Everyone does not need an Ivy League education to succeed in this world.
Seek out scholarships. Many local organizations, such as the Kiwanis, offer grants and aid to local students. Explore state aid programs also. Leave no stone unturned.
Respect all deadlines for forms to be submitted. They mean it!
For Rob: do not be afraid of the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). This is not the amount your family pays, it is a measure of your family’s financial strength and a number used by the school to calculate how much aid you can receive.
“For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not for woe! Plans to give you a future full of hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
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As parents of four, one through college and one a high school senior, we offer this advice: After prayerful consideration, find a number you can agree on.
Will you allow Marsha to continue to live at home? Will you continue to feed her and clothe her? Once living expenses are covered, you’d be surprised how affordable college can become.
Community College gives a bargain rate on the first two years and, with proper planning, all credits can transfer to a four year college.
So, Archdiocesan High Schools cost about $9,000 per year after fees are factored in. Could you agree to cover that much per year for college?
Helping does NOT have to mean endebting yourselves. You can fill out the FAFSA, pay an agreed-upon share, and then help Marsha to plan, to choose affordable options, and to fill out loan applications for herself if needed.
Maybe an ROTC scholarship is an option for Marsha?
Back when a Rob and Heather went to college, a college degree was nice to have. Today, a person will struggle to get even the most basic entry-level job without one. Don’t send her out into the world without a college degree but do make sure she assumes personal responsibility for her future by paying a significant portion of the cost on her own.
God bless you all.