When their kids are babies, parents often start out with high hopes that they will be able to provide them with the best college education that money can buy.
But when high school rolls around, “the fact is their kid is a solid ‘B’ student, not a super athlete and they have no savings,” Osborn said.
Yet many parents still yearn to foot the entire bill — or most of the bill — for college so their kids can avoid a lot of debt.
Some practical advice for parents of high school kids who are facing the reality of high college costs
- Make children part of the saving process as early as possible. No mall jobs? Try babysitting, yard work, dog walking, etc.
- Paying for their tuition? Start with personal savings, then go to government-backed student loans — which have low interest rates — and PLUS parental loans. Private bank loans are an option but have high interest rates.
- Use your network — family, friends, church, etc. — to help your children explore careers in high school. It will focus their high school and college studies, possibly cutting down on costs.
- Consider community college, which is far less expensive, for the first two years of undergraduate work and then a transfer to a four-year institution.
- Assess your child. Not an “A” student? A bit immature? Students often drop out after one year. Consider community college before splurging on a four-year school.
- Encourage students to make the most of high school — by looking for opportunities for college credit or dual enrollment.
- Use retirement funds to pay for college costs.
- Overlook less expensive in-state schools.
- Overborrow for college costs. Keep non-tuition and academic expenses to a minimum.
- Overspend on housing, furnishings or cars for college students — especially during the first few years, when many students drop out.
- Be afraid to let children take on some college debt. It will give them a bigger stake in their college success.