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Can we afford a private college for our son?

Aug 12, 2007 | | Comments Comments Off

Dear Liz: We are facing a challenge in regard to financing our son’s education. We are being asked to contribute $30,000 a year for a private college education. Is this really a wise move? We have a daughter who will be in college in two years. Help!

Answer: A good education is virtually essential to success in today’s competitive, global economy. That said, there are plenty of ways to get a good education, and bankrupting yourselves on a too expensive college shouldn’t be one of them.

If you can’t manage this bill without sacrificing your own retirement plans or your daughter’s education, then you need to think about some options.

If your son has his heart set on this college, then he should be willing to take on at least part of the cost by incurring student loans. (He should be careful, though, to make sure that his total student loan debt doesn’t exceed the salary he expects to make in his first year out of school.)

Another option, obviously, is for him to attend a less expensive school for at least a couple of years, if not the duration of his education.

The fact that you’re asking this question just months before your son starts college indicates that you haven’t done enough thinking and planning, but it’s not too late.

Head to the bookstore or library and grab a copy of a college financing guide and explore your options. You might also use FinAid.org’s expected family contribution calculator, available at http://www.finaid.org , to estimate how much you’ll have to kick in once your daughter starts school.

Good luck.

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