Decisions affecting college debt
Over the last 4 years, during our travels, we’ve had the pleasure of enjoying the talents of many street musicians. I always contribute a little to show my appreciation. But what goes through my mind is the real possibility that this young person could very well be paying off college loan debt.
The average college student graduates with $37,000 in college debt.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Decisions made as a family as well as by the student are made LONG before college begins which either lead to school debt or freedom from debt.
I agree that the cost of higher education is huge in many cases. The same state school I attended more than tripled over the 30 years between when I left and when my children started.
As I was growing up, the conversation never began, ‘If you go to college’ it was always, ‘When you go to college.’ And all 4 of us kids graduated from either a private college or public university.
If college costs are a concern then take note of the decisions that need to be made.:
(1) Work during high school and save money for college.
I worked from age 14 to 16 teaching private guitar lessons for $20/hr and this was 40 years ago. I worked retail from age 16. However, no one told me I was going to have to pay for college! I had assumed my parents were footing the bill. (My parents were poor as dirt but I didn’t know it.) It wasn’t until the summer between my junior and senior year in high school that I learned my parents weren’t paying! Imagine my shock and surprise! Had I known earlier I could have saved instead of spent it. I could have brought my lunch and dinner to work instead of buying it daily.- The very next day, I brought a sack lunch.
(2) Take a gap year to work and earn money between high school and college.
(3) Take a gap year between each year of college to earn money for the next year. (It would take a really good student and a not-so-difficult curriculum to make this work since many classes build on the last, and you would probably forget something or be less proficient in the next class. If you choose this method, be sure to review the previous year's materials while you take off to work.)
(4) Work part-time during college.
I had mostly on-campus jobs and worked in retail during breaks. My brothers and sister worked off campus, during school and every school break. I also privately tutored other students as a second, side job.
(5) School choice
My siblings and I went to three different colleges both public and private, and none attended my dad’s alma mater.
(6) Work full time during the day and attend school at night?
My dad was the first in his family to attend college and he did it on the GI bill. He had a family, a mortgage, and a full-time job. He went to school at night and graduated with honors. My siblings and I attending his college graduation. It made a huge impression on us.
(7) Got good grades? Work your butt off for scholarships and grants. And I don’t mean apply for a few. I mean you and your teen are submitting hundreds if not thousands of applications throughout high school. GPA doesn’t have to be a 4.0. There are sweepstakes and scholarships for average grades. Not all awards are academic. A large number are by race, gender, physical characteristic, good essay writing, medical condition, parent or student organization membership or employer, etc... 💵
(8) And of course, ideally, the time to start thinking about college and saving for it, is when your children are very young. Starting early gives you and your child the best chance of staying out of debt.
You absolutely Must discuss these things with your teen, NOW. Do not wait until their junior or senior year of high school. They could be applying for scholarships or working toward that goal today. 💵
And, oh by the way... community college and trade school isn’t free either. 🎓