- 2 years ago
So many thoughts on this because I was once kind of in your daughters shoes. I wanted to go to an expensive liberal arts school, and got in but they didn’t give me enough financial aid to make it possible. My parents had saved some for college so they sat me down and said they could pay for the 1st 2 years of state school or the 1st semester at the liberal arts college, but that I would have to take out loans for the rest. I decided that going to my dream school was not worth the $100k in loans I would have graduated with and went on to have a great college “career” at Public U which set me up well for success in the workplace.
I still graduated with $25k in loans which I just recently paid off in my late 30’s. Having a $1000/mo loan payment vs a $220/mo one would have greatly impacted my entire adult life so far. I never would have been able to move to NYC after college and I still landed a job there without the prestigious private school degree.
1. LOANS – a good rule of thumb is to not take out more than your expected first year salary. Your daughter should research what her career interests pay new graduates and not borrow more than the lowest paying job. So if she’s interested in politics for example, a junior political aide in the US House or Senate makes around $30k – and needs to live in the pricey DC area.
2. LOANS FOR PARENTS- if you do not have your own retirement funded, you do not borrow anything for her in your own name. Do not co-sign. Do not be responsible. It sucks because I know you want to give your baby what she dreams of but you also don’t want to pass on the burden to her of supporting you in your old age.
3. SCHOLARSHIPS / FINANCIAL AID – do complete the FAFSA form. If you make less than $60k per year, many Ivy League and similar schools are tuition free. You still have to come up with travel and living expenses unless a scholarship covers those. Between $60-160k, you are required to pay a % of your income towards tuition. 60% of Harvard students pay $12k a year in tuition vs the sticker price which is near $50k. Check with the schools she’s interested in to see what need based aid they offer and if any of it is income based. Then you have a clear idea of what you’ll need to cover between work, loans, and other scholarships.
Did she take the PSAT junior year? If she scored high enough on that , she could be entered into the National Merit program. Many universities waive tuition for National Merit Finalists as long as they turn in all the paperwork on time.
Also, she CAN negotiate with colleges. Don’t be afraid to ask for more once she gets her package. The worst they can say is “no” – or they might tip her off to another scholarship or endowment she qualifies for. If they really want her – and it’s a good sign that colleges are contacting her to apply- they can bend sometimes.