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Weighing college costs



It’s important not to break the family, or your retirement

college, savings, students, bills

How important is your child’s college education? Should it take precedence over your family’s financial stability, or you and your spouse’s future?

When coping with the pandemic crowds our decision making, college planning for our youngsters may seem ridiculous.

Terrie Goldstein, publisher of Hudson Valley Parent recalls a recent conversation with her son. “‘I have been saving for Robert’s college since he was a baby,” Paul said.  (Robert just turned 18.) “Here’s where I learn if it paid off.”

Planning for your children’s education starts now, says Goldstein.  

Angela Brown of Fox Business has written a piece in which she takes into account the rising cost of a college education and notes that, “Paying for your child’s college education shouldn’t sacrifice your future.”

She builds her argument carefully, noting how the average cost of a college education has risen from $10,893 for tuition, fees, and room and board in the 1985-1986 school year to $23,091 in 2017. Then offers some options from financial aid offers, both private and public, as well as focusing in on the benefits of public and private loans, as long as the latter are properly researched to ensure offered rates are in line with all that’s being offered.

“Remember, your child can always apply for a loan, get a job, or take classes part-time. Paying for your child’s college shouldn’t take away from your retirement or make it difficult for you to meet your monthly obligations,” Brown writes. “Talk with your student as soon as possible, so they can participate in saving and planning for college too.

For loans in particular, the need to meet monthly payments is a key question that needs to be faced head on. So is the possibility of providing other support to your college-bound child besides tuition.

“Do I qualify for a Parent PLUS loan?  Brown asks parents to ask themselves, referring to a federal loan program that allows parents to help undergraduate students pay for college expenses. “Since it’s a federal loan, it offers benefits like income-based repayment and loan deferment options. Consider a student loan calculator to determine if this type of loan is an affordable option for you.”

Finally, the Fox story looks into the return-on-investment profiles of different majors, the better to gauge one’s budding collegian’s plans before they’re activated.

It’s a lot to swallow, but a key conversation we all need to have.




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