Advising parents who have started saving for college a little too late can be a very difficult conversation. Telling a student who has worked diligently over the last 3 or 4 years to get into a prestigious college or the college of their dreams that they can’t afford to go is gut-wrenching.
While inflation may have seemed tame over the past several years, the cost of tuition has been accelerating at an annual rate of 5% over the past ten years. According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2015–2016 school year was $32,405 at private colleges, $9,410 for state residents at public colleges, and $23,893 for out-of-state residents attending public universities.
The College Board reports that the average cost of room and board in 2015–2016 ranged from $10,138 at four-year public schools to $11,516 at private schools. Colleges also provide room and board estimates for living off campus based on typical student costs.
So what can parents who are finding themselves
Finally, if your child is still a year or two out from high school graduation, look at what options are available to take Advanced Placement (AP) classes or classes at a local community college that would be transferable to the colleges that your child is looking to attend. I have had clients who had their children start college as a sophomore based upon the college credits that they were able to generate while still in high school.
A strategy such as this is one that I would implore parents to look into during the early years of their children’s high school years. With four kids of my own, this is definitely a low-cost strategy that I will be keeping my eyes on for my kids.
After taking in all your available options, you need to consider how much debt is reasonable to take on when considering what college to attend. While the connections you may generate by going to an Ivy League school may be great if you are going into a field such as teaching for example that pays relatively low salaries, that Ivy League degree may not be the best option.
Lastly, as tempting as it may be, I strongly discourage parents from robbing their retirement assets to pay the cost of their child’s college education. You can always get a loan for college, but you can’t get a loan for retirement.