You’re child has just entered their senior year in high school and is determined to pursue a college degree. You have every reason to be proud. And nervous. An overwhelmed. You know all too well the value of a college degree, but are also painfully aware of the cost.
Let’s go under the assumption that a) you’re not a millionaire b) you haven’t stashed $200,000 in a college savings account c) you’ve just finished paying off your own student loans and d) are actually starting to think/panic about retirement planning.
You can do this. Pursuing a college degree and attending a designer private university do not necessarily have to go hand in hand. Where your child starts his degree and where he finishes doesn’t have to be one in the same. There’s a wonderful secret out there to minimize student loans. It’s called Community College. The first two years of college the majority of students take basic courses that will apply to the vast majority of majors.
Tuition at Community Colleges is often less than a quarter of that at public four year universities and a mere fraction of that at private colleges. While your child might be less than thrilled at attending a local Community College, rest assured he will be thrilled when he graduates without mammoth debt. If he excels the first semester, moving into a student group house near campus and filling his pantry with food from home would be a step closer to a ‘real’ college experience, still without breaking the bank.
Because the students are ‘only’ in class less than 18 hours a week, this leaves ample time for a solid part time job for at least 20 hours a week. Students with the most free-time often have the lowest grades. He’ll still have plenty of time to study and socialize. Time management is one of the hardest skills for students to learn. Having a part time job for four years and a full time job every summer will translate into $1,000’s avoided in student loan accumulation.
Having excelled at Community College for two years, he can transfer to an in state public university for the remaining two years. He will finish with an excellent degree, will have developed strong skills in self- reliance and time management. Drive home the concept that he will have greater options in job selection & life style choices when he’s not saddled with student loan payments for decades after graduation. Now you can really afford that celebration dinner at a fancy restaurant like Capri!