Are College Costs Deceiving?

To a college finance geek like me, this is what I imagine ‘earnings season’ must be like for a Wall Street whale. Several reports about college costs, value and debt have appeared in national publications, and I’m mired in college numbers. It seems like every time I hit refresh, I’ve got a new financial report/ statistic indicator of the state of college costs on my screen.

Rising college costs are a big problem for our country, for you, and especially for our students who are graduating with high debt and facing challenges finding employment that is equivalent to their degree.

High college costs are not going away, but there is something that you can do now, for your family to minimize the challenge. I’m not going to B.S. you by saying that it will be easy.  There is nothing easy about paying for college.  But you can reduce the burden by taking action now, before it’s too late.

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Our goal is to help your children get into the college of their dreams and help you find the most efficient way to pay for it and still retire the way you’ve always wanted to.

Let me summarize:

  • A White Paper on student indebtedness from Cornell Higher Education Research Institute reveals that student debt is not entirely attributable to high sticker prices.  The other major culprit is school generosity (or lack of it).  In other words, schools that have more generous financial aid policies by meeting 100% of demonstrated need are less likely to send graduates out into the world with a mountain of debt.  Where to find those generous schools?  Ask your College Dream Builder Consultant for a list of them.
  • TIME Magazine’s recently had a cover story, A Special Report on Higher Education, which included a discussion on college debt, but it also highlighted trends toward online learning, or MOOCs (Massive Open Online Colleges).  These potentially game-changing services will not replace the standard bricks and mortar college campuses, at least not anytime soon, but they do offer educational services at a fraction of the cost (as in free!).  With pressure on colleges to control their rising costs, these MOOCs could serve and important role.  The top 50 college will remain in demand, as there is value in attending class, interacting with top professors and students, and receiving an actual degree (MOOCs don’t offer a degree…today).  But those colleges in the middle of the pack are already facing pressure from the government to justify costs (in fact, all college are), and that pressure will likely increase from the marketplace as students may opt for alternative higher education options.
  • And finally, the College Board released a study showing tuition increases of 5% across the nation.  The average tuition nationwide is $8,655.  There is nothing spectacular or surprising in this increase, but what is worth noting is that only one-third of full-time students pay the full price.  So my brilliant math helps me conclude that two-thirds of all full-time are getting a discount (down from 82% previously), either through merit or need-based aid.  How to become one of the lucky 66%?  Have a sound, integrated, college admissions and funding strategy…and then you execute that strategy.

The college admissions and funding process is like a game.  If you know the rules and work them to your advantage, you can win.  If you stay in the dark and remain ignorant of those rules, you will lose.

If your concerned with finding, getting admitted to, and paying for a top college for your student, then you need to listen up and take action.  I’m holding two public workshops next month – one in Caledonia and one in Holland.

I’ll cover:

  • How to avoid high-fee, high-interest student loan debt
  • The biggest mistake parents make with MESP and other 529 plans
  • The crucial questions parents should ask every school on a student’s college list to help you save big bucks!
  • How a ‘pricey’ private college can cost less than a state school, even considering especially MESP, and Pre-Paid Tuition plans
  • Why it’s taking, on average, 5+ years to graduate from college today and how to buck this trend
  • How to compile a list of schools that maximize chances at both admissions and financial aid
  • More!

You don’t have to pay a red cent to register to attend this event.  I do promise, however, that you will leave with a brain full of information that can save the typical middle class family thousands of dollars off the cost of college.  With the school year coming to a close, parents of high school students should feel a sense of urgency to take action, regardless of what grade your kid is in.  For parents with 9th, 10th, or 11th graders, the sooner you understand the rules of college finance, the easier it will be on your planning.  For 11th graders especially, time is running out for you to take the steps necessary to significantly lower your college costs.

Once again, there is nothing easy about paying for college.  But the effort becomes increasingly more difficult the longer you wait.  The best way to start is to attend my workshop.  Click here to register.  I look forward to seeing you there.

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