I was reminded of this parody video when we received notification this week that our son’s tuition is increasing. The only problem is his financial aid nor our income increased. This means we will be camping out at the financial aid office later this week doing the Bill Cosby buying a car routine, only we don’t have to pretend that one of us is not a doctor and the other a lawyer. (But our son may be wearing his sling even though he’s been out of it for a few weeks. Just kidding. I think).
According to NPR, college tuition has skyrocketed over the past few years. This is not a shock to those who have college aged kids. Georgia is no longer on my mind; instead, college tuition is on my mind as it has increased 75% in the last five years in this great state. Believe it or not, some states have seen even higher increases in the last five years.
So what’s the answer? Unfortunately, there aren’t any easy ones, but here are some thoughts.
Decide how much your family can afford (or wants to afford) and “shop” colleges in that price range. Many junior colleges and local branches of larger schools offer a great education. Even if your child wants to graduate from a certain university, he or she does not have to start there. Parents, it is okay to tell your child, we cannot afford this. You are not a terrible parent for doing this. I cannot even begin to tell you the number of parents who have told me, “We really can’t afford Fantastic University but what choice do we have? Our kid insists on going there.” This is actually an entirely different blog which will be titled Don’t Let Your Kid Call the Shots.
Apply for scholarships. Apply for anything and everything you can find. I saw an article a few weeks ago about a scholarship being given for playing video games. ( http://espn.go.com/chicago/college-sports/story/_/id/11113637/robert-morris-university-offers-esports-scholarships-league-legends-video-game) I had to put a link in because I knew you may not believe me. We told our kids early on, you can be academic or athletic, your choice, but your high school career is to be working toward some type of scholarship. Students can get scholarships for making outfits out of duct tape and making creative peanut butter sandwiches with Jif.
Seek financial aid in person. My theory with most everything in life is someone is going to have to tell me “no” in person because it’s much harder to do that in person than over the phone or through email. Tell them your story, your circumstances, or any factors that might make a difference in a financial decision.
Have your kids contribute to their education. Many students work their way through school, and my hat goes off to them. Not only will this make them a better student because they will appreciate more what they have to pay for, it will also make them more responsible adults. And the world needs more responsible adults.
If your student is younger, start having conversations now about scholarships and college, so he or she has realistic expectations. There’s nothing like thinking you’re going to NYU only to have a JuCo budget. Be forthright with kids.
There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to college education. The more parents and teachers are educated about college options, the more affordable choices our students will have.
What’s your best advice for college? Feel free to post that you want to help with our college costs.