We are in full college mode in the Debt Discipline home, with two high school juniors with higher education in their sights it hard not to be talking about the topic on a regularly basis. A recent trip to a local college fair and the completion of their first SATs has sparked the conversation to an all-time high. This is a good thing because it gives us an opportunity not only to discuss colleges and test scores, but cost and career paths. My wife and I want to help all three of our children make good decisions about their higher education choice and look at many factors, like cost, return on investment (ROI), major, track record of college, and not just pick a school based on the prettiness of the campus. Here are some of the things we are discussion with our children.
We are having them search far and wide. We have family on the West Coast and South East so we don’t want them to rule out any school, but they also know our home state of New York has some great colleges too. Some really local and if they choose to live at home while attending that’s fine too. The key is to make sure the school offers what major they are interested in. My son mentioned he’d never want to go to a community college, but I explained it’s a good option for some who’s undecided on major, they can take classes at a low-cost as they make a decision or if someone struggled on admission to college of their choice a community college might help make them more attractive. Once they have some colleges picked we need to look at cost, what’s the overall cost of tuition and does the cost match the benefit and value of the program offered at that school.
Grants and Scholarships
We are impressing upon our children that no amount of free money is too small. A five hundred-dollar scholarship or a five thousand-dollar scholarship should be handled with the same care and effort. We are looking into and applying to any and all grants and scholarships starting now. Our son and daughter have 4.0 GPAs, are in AP classes and, involved in extra curriculum activates. We hope that their hard work will give them an edge when applying.
We want to avoid borrowing money at all cost. Our children understand the burden of debt, watching us struggle and paying off a big pile ourselves. We continue to impress upon them the importance of starting their lives debt free. That may mean working during college, and during breaks to help pay the College bill. Sharing these recent student debt numbers with them and they are clear on the problem.
It’s been twenty plus years since I was a full-time college student, I can’t help but think I’m missing something. As we continue to help and prepare our children, what other things should we be discussing?
What other resources should be looked at for perspective college students? Any Grants and Scholarships trick or tips?