As everyone knows, obtaining a university degree in this day
and age is extremely expensive. However, whether for good or ill, it's an
absolutely necessary investment for your child's future. More competition for
fewer jobs means that those who have failed to obtain a higher education will
be left behind. Considering the high costs of a university degree, you and your
college-bound child must carefully select the institution that best matches
your child's abilities, interests, and preferences, while trying your best to
minimize future debt for yourself or your child. Here are a few things to keep
Consider the cost of living in whatever area the potential university is
Although financial aid packages do include an approximate
amount a student can expect to pay for personal expenses, this is usually a
very rough estimate. The best way to determine how much your child will be
spending beyond standard school costs is to first budget how much your child
spends currently on food, gas, and entertainment, then run this figure through cost
of living calculator.
Carefully review financial aid packages.
Once your child receives her acceptance letters from
different schools, it's important to carefully review and understand the
financial aid award letter that is included. Usually, award letters list all
expected costs, what families themselves are expected to contribute (EFC), plus
grant money (which you don't have to pay back) and loan offers (which, of
course, you do). Although financial aid packages vary from year to year, the
initial award letter is a good indication of how much you can expect to pay
fetishize brand name schools.
It's very easy to get caught up in the insanity of applying
to a highly selective school. While it's completely understandable to be very
proud and excited about admittance to an Ivy or other top-notch school, soberly
analyzing the costs of attending is very important. While it is true that these
schools often have a ton of enriching resources and connections that could pay
off once your child graduates, it's just as important to know that college
success is dependent more on what your kid does with her time in school; not that
she simply got into a top-tier school. A student who excelled both in and out
of the classroom at a state school is more valuable to employers than one who
skated by in an Ivy. In the end, incurring over $20,000-$30,000 in debt is, in
most cases, simply not a sound investment. If you can't afford a brand name
school, don't get your child admitted to it.
4. If time
and money allow, visit schools before choosing.
As with any large investment, it's best to get as accurate
an idea as possible about what the school is actually like before committing to
it for at least four years. Once you've received acceptance letters and
eliminated schools that are not financially feasible, try visiting a school
with your child, and encourage her to do an overnight stay as a prospective
student. This way, you're child will get a better picture of what the school
culture is like and if he or she will fit in. For your kid to maximize her
college experience, she must be comfortable in her surroundings. Thus doing
research by visiting is very important in the selection process.
These are just a few things to consider before selecting a
university with your college-bound kid. It's a tough process, but being
realistic about the financial aspects of college is absolutely instrumental if
you want your child to avoid the sort of student debt that has crippled many post-graduates' career.