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!