How did you pay for college? Especially if you didn't have a lot of money…

posted 1 year ago in Parenting
Post # 46
72 posts
Worker bee

I would recommend an instate school. I was able to pay for part of mine with various scholarships, grants, and financial aid. The rest was entirely paid for through loans. 30k in loans even though more than half was covered with scholarships/grants/financial aide. 

While going out of state seems like it would be a great experience, I find that most people I know cannot actually afford it without some major assistance (parents, bank loans, etc). 

Post # 48
880 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2019

I haven’t read through everyone’s comments, but I agree with everyone’s I’ve read so far. And also want to reiterate that you’re not a bad parent! You’ve obviously been an amazing mother to her, as evidenced by her stellar grades and social life. 

I just want to add, if she’s a first-generation college student, you can get scholarships/loans based on that as well. I’m not entirely certain what it is and what all it entails because I wasn’t a first-generation college student, but you should be able to Google it and find out the information!

Post # 49
518 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2016

marlamallow :  She actually went to Redlands, which is on OP’s daughters list. I am not going to lie, it is a great school, and where I currently attend grad school for an MBA (that is paid for by my company). I can understand attending a private school if that degree is not offered elsewhere, but in the long run private vs. public won’t make a huge difference in career and salary. I know plenty of people, including myself, who have the same levels of career success and salaries after attending a state school vs. a private school. 

OP, if she is interested in Economics, Environment, and Politics, does she want a masters degree or law degree? The next step is important also if you’re considering total student loan debt with multiple degrees. 

Post # 50
223 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2017

Definitely have her call the financial aid departments at the schools she is interested in! They have the inside scoop on what the school can offer, and ask about specific scholarships she can apply for. 

Also, I definitely agree with previous posters about her looking into being an RA in the dorms. 

If she does need to take out loans, make sure she evaluates her potential starting salary vs the loans. My husband has 4 years of out of state tuition loans (think over 100k), but we are both engineers so we are getting it them paid off just fine. It does put off our having kids timeline though. Take the possibility of loans very seriously. With some careers it is almost impossible to pay them off. 

Post # 51
3029 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2008

So the smartest thing for her to do is go to a cheap community college for her lower-division courses and then transfer to a 4-year State University. I would insist on having her apply to one or two public universities that are in your State and budget and see if you can afford housing for the full “college experience” of being in the dorms. 

At the same time, you have the magic combination of having a smart, promising young girl and being broke, so have her also apply to her “reach” schools and see what they come back with. I also had this magic combo, and when I transferred from community college to a private Catholic college, they offered me a competitive scholarship package that actually made it cheaper to go there than the UC in my area! 

Now, here’s what you do. You apply for the FAFSA. That will give you Grants, which are up to six years of free money from the government that you do not need to pay back. Some states like CA also have fee waivers for community college tuition if you are really poor/e.g. living 150% below the poverty line. I’m sure she absolutely does not want to go to community college because there’s a stigma attached to it, but I swear that she will get a great and highly personalized education there if that’s all you can afford. I out-completed most of my graduation cohort who had spent all 4 years there, was #2 in my graduating class of 500-ish students.

The FAFSA will also give you the option to apply for subsidized student loans. These are the only loans you should consider getting, since outside lenders tend to be predatory. Even then, I only recommend getting them as a last resort and then paying them off as fast as possible because if shit hits the fan and you can’t afford to pay them off, the government will make your life a literal hell on earth. 

You can also have her apply for every institutional (school offered) and private (outside organization offered) scholarships, since that’s free money too. It helps if she wants to do STEM, is a POC, or has a disability. Usually she will write an essay, get teachers to write her recommendation letters, and hope and pray that they choose her. Some scholarships aren’t for money but for technology and school supplies. I won an assistive technology packet (worth about $800) from a scholarship for people with documented learning disabilities. 

A part of the full “college experience” is working two jobs, haha! I worked both on campus as a tutor and off campus doing retail work. Does she currently have an after school job? Best to help her find work now because getting that first job is tough unless you know people. 

I hope I was helpful. I worked at a community college for several years and I always made sure to make friends in FInancial Aid. 

Post # 52
9213 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper

I was also going to recommend looking into reciprocity schools. That’d allow her to go out-of-state at in-state rates. 

If she’s going to definitely pursue an advanced degree, I agree with PPs that it’s usually more important where you go for that advanced degree. I went to a top 5 school for both undergrad and law school, but my law school classmates came from all over the place and most of us ended up with similar jobs after graduation. If she’s wanting a master’s, I’d look into schools that allow coterming, mine had this and you can get a bachelor’s and master’s at the same time:

Does she play any sports? Obviously getting an athletic scholarship is huge, but even if she’s not recruited, a few of my friends walked on to teams during freshman year and then were given scholarships for subsequent years. Some of them who joined rowing didn’t even have any prior experience. Something to think about.

Post # 53
3730 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: November 2014

You say her ACT scores are high. Have you checked local colleges to see their scholarships based on ACT or SAT scores? I teach in  high poverty school, and the top way our students get to college is based on their ACT scores. Many schools (state schools mostly) will start offering partial scholarships with a composite score of around 24 and full scholarships around 30 with different increments in between. At least the schools in my state do.

Post # 55
2678 posts
Sugar bee

I don’t think a certain amount of student loans are bad, but I think you need to sit her down and explain to her what $100K worth of loans will mean to her when she graduates and isn’t making a ton of money.  

I agree with her going to 2-year program and getting some credits that she can transfer to a larger institution.  Also, consider an in state, state school.  

I truly think parents do their kids a disservice by not explaining the repercussions of taking out $100K worth of loans.  That amount of money is going to affect their lives for 20+ years.

Post # 56
1505 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2015

desertgypsy :  Girl listen, please don’t be hard on yourself about this.  College tuition hikes are ridiculous.  No way the average person can just pay for their kid’s college education in cash.  Frankly I doubt you could even if you had started saving when your daughter was born.

“The average annual increase in college tuition from 1980-2014 grew by nearly 260% compared to the nearly 120% increase in all consumer items.

In 1980, the average cost of tuition, room and board, and fees at a four-year post-secondary institution was $9,438, according to the Department of Education. That number has since climbed to $23,872.”

So yeah, this is NOT YOUR FAULT.  There’s a reason Americans collectively owe more than $1.4 trillion in student loans, overtaking mortgage and credit card debt. 

Therefore, I don’t know that it would be all that helpful for us to tell you how we paid for college, because even for younger bees (I’m 32), it’s simply a whole different world today than it was when we went to college.  I mean, I cannot imagine how I would have afforded to go to my law school if I had gone 5 years later than I did.  

If you really want to know, when I was applying for colleges in the 2000s, I was choosing between well-known private universities for which my parents would have had to pay tens of thousands per year, or public universities to which I would have had a full ride.  Your daughter’s academic career sounds like mine, so she should have no problem getting full rides to public universities (Even though with full rides you still have to worry about living expenses).

I’ll admit, I was allured by the prestige of some of these private universities.  My parents said wherever I want to go, they’d do whatever it took to make it work.  But in the end I decided to accept full ride + stipend to a public university that was aggressively recruiting National Merit Scholars. I made my choice because I actively did not wish to feel beholden to my parents for the rest of my life, like I would be if they paid out the nose for my college.  I come from a traditional Asian family and I’d been a people-pleaser all my life.  I wanted to choose my own path and not feel guilt if my parents disagreed with my choice.  No pay no say right? : P

My younger sister chose a different path. She’s going to an expensive private school out of state. She has a half-tuition merit scholarship and does work-study, but my parents now can’t retire because they have to keep working for the money pay the Expected Family Contribution every year.  So she won’t have student loans in undergrad, but she still will have to take out massive loans when she goes to med school.  However I think it is going to work out for her because she’s going to a well-known school that’s specifically well-known for her specialization, and she’s doing SO well–She’s 18 and already contributed to two peer-reviewed research articles about to be published.  

Long story short, the decision-making process needs to be about more than just “where do I want to go.”  Your daughter needs to really think about where she wants to go, why she wants to go, what doors specifically does she think going to this specific school will open for her and how does she think it will do that.  

It’s not Monopoly money.  It’s not “I’ll just take out loans”.  Those loans will affect the rest of her life. THEY’RE NOT DISCHARGEABLE IN BANKRUPTCY and probably not even dischargeable in death (so do not co-sign the loans).  Of course it is ridiculous that as a country we expect teenagers to be able to make these decisions, but the reality is they do and they need to.  Financial literacy is a must. 

Post # 57
709 posts
Busy bee

She can go to a public in state school. She can still get the traditional college experience, live in a dorm, etc. Student loans aren’t all evil but some of them are. Stafford (public) loans are your best bet, have her stay away from private loans. 

Post # 58
916 posts
Busy bee

desertgypsy :  

First, the main thing to think about is if it’s even worth it. I have a variety of friends who went to small, liberal arts colleges that cost them an arm and a leg. And unless these specific colleges have a unique program she’s looking into that others don’t offer, I struggle to understand why state school isn’t an option. 

I’m a huge state school advocate, mainly because my private school friends are all $80K plus in student loan debt for a basic degree that they could have earned at a public school, like English or Psychology. So, I would first try and get to the root of if it’s actually worth attending these schools in the first place, because they can be the difference of $30,000 in debt after college, and $80, all for the exact same education. 

I attended school out-of-state, but I was lucky in the sense that I was on an academic scholarship. My tuition was paid for for all my years, as long as I kept a specific GPA. However, I had to take out loans for living expenses, books, etc. After 5 years of college, I left withou about $30K in debt, even after having most of tuition paid for. 

The key is that you must consider there is only a certain amount of loans she will be able to take out, in terms of Federal Loans. If she will still be classified as “Dependent”, for tax purposes, she will only be able to take out I believe $30,000 in federal loans. Once she maxes that out, then she will have to be classified as “Indepedent” if she wants more federal loans, or she’ll have to take out private loans. 

That is never really suggested, just because the interest rates are very high and you will likely have to cosign for her, as she won’t have enough credit to be approved on her own. If you do sign a private loan for her, that means if even one payment is missed, they will come after you. Plus, most private loans even request that you start paying them off the moment you get them. You usually make a monthly “interest” payment, and once you hit about 6 months graduation, the full payment will kick in. 

I suggest seriously chatting with her about what the expensive private schools will get her that the more affordable state school won’t. If she’s set on the private schools, she will need private loans or be removed as Depedent if she has any hope of getting the money to attend such a school.

EDIT: To add, I am all for student loans. I know that’s going to sound off in the current climate, but student loans are the only “okay” debt to get into, within reason. I understand and acknowledge how expensive school is is insane, but at the end of the day, student loans are a wonderful thing. The key is to see it as it is, and to set yourself up on the right track to pay them off. A very wise women once told me that it is suggested you only take out as much student loans as your predicted entry level salary. That is to say, if you take out $40,000 in total, you should be aiming for a field that will pay you that entry level. I hit that just about on the mark. 

The big issue is when we have students going to expensive private schools, taking out $80,000 in loans, majoring in a difficult to employee field like English or Creative writing, and then wonder how they’re going to pay it all off when they can’t find a job after college. And if your daughter is interested in Psychology, know that she will have to get her Masters. It is a field that is getting hit hard, and I know have about 20+ friends with Psychology degrees who had to go back to working minimum wage jobs, simply because have a Bachlor in Psychology is no longer enough. There are too many people graduating with that degree, so the standards of entry level jobs in the field are much higher than they used to be. Please, please make her understand that if she goes that rout, she will need to get her Master’s, which is more schooling and more money. I just really want her to understand the full situation, so she can set herself up for the brightest future possible!

Post # 59
1639 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2018

College tuition has gotten so ridiculous at this point I fully support students en mass NOT go to college for a number of years until schools get the message.  Just because students can get loans is NOT justification for raising tuition to a now unsustainable amout.

To that end bee, I suggest community college for the first 2 years if at all possible.  Everyone knows you don’t get into your major until junior year and the first two years are just getting pre reqs out of the way.  Community college is a good way to save money this way….She’d just need to research schools who will accept those credits so transferring to a 4 year will be easier.

Post # 60
1017 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2019

I grew up in NJ and ended up going to a small, private, religious college in PA. The school gave me a scholarship to cover 60% of tuition. My parents paid some during the 4 years, but also went through FAFSA and got loans. My dad offered to pay for the first 5 years of the 10 year loans, covering almost $10k.

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