How much will you pay for college/have paid for you?

How to explain ERE, arranging family matters
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How much will you pay for college/have paid for you?

Post by Peanut » Thu Dec 21, 2017 2:12 pm

Wondering what those who have paid or plan to pay for kids' college educations will shell out and also how much the recently graduated had paid for them? Parents: Did you do as much as you could or limit it? Graduates: Do you appreciate what your parents contributed or do you resent that they didn't do enough? Did your peers get a better or worse deal than you? Do you wish you'd gone to private/public school/Canada instead?

DH and I would like to pay for college and he wants to do professional school if applicable as well. I feel like at that rate he will work forever. Private school is 250k to-day, who knows how much it'll be a decade or two from now. Law/medicine hundreds more. On the other hand, if it sets them up maybe it's better potlatch-spent than saved only to be parimoniously spent by us..

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Re: How much will you pay for college/have paid for you?

Post by Fish » Thu Dec 21, 2017 2:47 pm

DW and I were A-students and attended college and graduate school for free. We both stopped after MS but the funding was there if we wanted to continue for PhDs.

That being said, it’s hard imagining our children as students of the same caliber and we are expecting to pay their undergraduate educations for them, and we will if the funds are there (savings or cash flow from income). Definitely not for grad school, and probably not for a professional degree unless we are especially wealthy and feeling charitable. They will have to do the ROI calculation if they want a super-extended childhood. We are prioritizing our own FI because as the saying goes, you can always borrow money for college, but not for retirement.

This is ~15 years in our future, and money is fungible. We are always free to change our mind on this issue. And maybe by then there might be a free and open source solution to the college education problem? Or the AI robots take over the world?

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Re: How much will you pay for college/have paid for you?

Post by IlliniDave » Thu Dec 21, 2017 2:54 pm

I limited the dollar amount to 4-years tuition and room/board in university-provided housing at an in-state public school. I would have provided them the same dollar amount towards private and/or out-of-state college, but they'd have had to work out the rest themselves, with the restriction that it had to be an accredited academic institution. I would have been okay with a "trade school" affiliated with a JC or something.

I don't think I'm in the mainstream on that. I got serious grief from a colleague because I said I would not borrow $120,000 to pay for a 3-year "horsemanship certificate" from some private riding academy several states away. Yes, one of mine wanted to do that.

When I went off to school I got a set of inexpensive luggage (actually that was my HS graduation present), a ride down to U of State (my handle should give it away), and Dad helped me carry stuff up to my dorm room. I saved money working in HS, worked for the University during the school year, took summer jobs, received my state's equivalent of a "Hope Scholarship" (a tuition waver for in-state public schools), and after the first year received Pell Grants (~$800/year). This was either before FAFSA or when FAFSA was less onerous. I also took out student loans totaling $7,500. Never went on a Spring Break binge with the loan money (never went at all) which people were starting to do around that time. This of course was a long time ago, and I never resented the lack of a Mom/Dad Scholarship, and in time came to appreciate having to do it "the hard way", being essentially broke and kind of on my own for 4 years, etc. College was a good halfway house environment for fledging.

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Re: How much will you pay for college/have paid for you?

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Fri Dec 22, 2017 10:45 am

I spent about $500/month supporting my 2 kids from when they were 18 and 20 until they were 22 and 24. Otherwise, they had scholarships, worked, or took out loans. However, I did this in lieu of providing them with a place to crash, because I dumped the nest along with the nestlings. So, this expense was just a continuation of approximately my share of their support prior to college age. I'm pretty frugal, so I estimate minimum cash expense for raising 2 kids (splitting costs with other parent) as 23 X $500 X 12= $138,000.

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Re: How much will you pay for college/have paid for you?

Post by Peanut » Fri Dec 22, 2017 1:33 pm

IlliniDave and 7w5: Did all your kids go to college and start a career that could support them? Are they still paying down any debts? I guess the question is are you happy with how you and they handled their lives and finances after high school?

Fish: Yes I feel like something has to give on college costs but I've felt that way for many years now. All that's happened is the costs have doubled since I went to school.

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Re: How much will you pay for college/have paid for you?

Post by Seppia » Fri Dec 22, 2017 2:08 pm

College is substantially cheaper here in Italy compared to the USA.
So not sure my experience applies but it is another perspective.
University annual fees are usually minimal for public universities, and depend on the wage levels of your parents for the private ones.
The most expensive university in Italy is Università Bocconi, and today the most one can pay is 12k euros (less than $14k at today's exchange rate), if the total family wages are above 126k euros (that's about $150k). Back in my days in 1999 the top rate was 8k euros.
Families making less than 57k euros, the cost will be 5.4k euros per year.
The costs do not include a place to sleep, just the classes. Most Italians live at home during college and commute.

I went to a very good private university, and today, for a family in the top bracket, the cost would be 10k euros per year.

When I was a student my dad told me:
"College is supposed to last 4 years, so I'll pay 4 years of fees, all your meals, and the train ticket back/forth. Anything extra is on you"
I plan to do the same with my kids, if I ever have any.

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Re: How much will you pay for college/have paid for you?

Post by CS » Fri Dec 22, 2017 3:27 pm

We (the kids) were given the equivalent of the local University's tuition for undergrad. (The local University is excellent, so this was a bargain.) I also received one year on campus living expenses but hated it so we were all happier with me at home and taking the express bus in. Us kids were also expressly pressured to *not* have a car, and not have jobs - since our job was "to study." This resulted in my only jobs during undergrad being related to my degree, including three summer internships - which proved invaluable for getting grad school fellowship funding and acceptance. I also managed to get the 5th year of undergrad completely paid for with scholarships as well. (The fifth year was partially necessary due to double major class schedule. The 'not necessary' part was all fun writing classes for me... whee!)

My step-sister wanted to go to a private college and took out loans to pay for the difference. I wonder if she thinks it was worth it in hindsight. Her job paid for her MBA years later.

We were also taught that grad school should be 'free' if you're doing it right (a benefit for some sort of graduate assistantship). Anything that required payment was not quite right - at least as far as English degrees and all that. My ex, whose parents were not science graduate students, had no idea of this mantra but took to it quite well for his own life once introduced to it.

So, of my post bach degrees/certificates I paid for two cash (not graduate level, more just following my own interests) and four were paid for through fellowships, and graduate research and teaching positions. Yes, I do enjoy school - can you tell? Best entertainment, ever.

By contrast, my brother hated school and is arguably the most successful person I know, all without any of the "official papers". It is wonderful to see that example up close.
Last edited by CS on Sat Dec 23, 2017 12:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How much will you pay for college/have paid for you?

Post by ffj » Fri Dec 22, 2017 6:13 pm

I think IlliniDave and I lived a double life. Like him, my parents dropped me off at an in-state school where I received Pell Grants and guaranteed student loans. I can honestly say that since I was fourteen when I started working that my parents have paid very, very little of my expenses. My dad actually gave me $100 on that day which was the first and last contribution to my college career. Thinking back, they never once visited me either except for my graduation in which they were an hour late. Apparently the neighbor needed help with something which superseded being on time for my graduation.

Having worked for several years beforehand I had several thousand dollars saved up for expenses. I worked on campus jobs because I had no transportation other than a Murray bicycle from K-Mart. But I did fine, had a great time and met my future wife. Not bad really and it taught me I could survive on very little money which gave me the confidence to not worry about the future.

My first child started college this past August and we are paying for everything from food to tuition to housing to the car he is driving and the gas to run it. And I will be doing the same for my second child too in a year or so. We started saving literally the day they were born for this so we can comfortably afford it. Both of them know what their responsibilities are in regards to school, and that if they squander this opportunity by goofing off then we will not hesitate to stop funding their college education.

The classic question is always how much is too much when supporting your kids? For us, we are willing to support them up to an undergrad degree and I wouldn't hesitate to contribute after that if they needed seed money for a business or something catastrophic occurred. But we have very little patience with being stupid with money, especially money that we have worked very hard to acquire. Our kids don't always appreciate what is actually involved in being financially independent and successful because they really haven't had to be independent just yet, which leads to some frustrating conversations at times. Really, until one has to experience something, some of this stuff just flies over your head.

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Re: How much will you pay for college/have paid for you?

Post by OTCW » Fri Dec 22, 2017 6:41 pm

I went to in-state U and got help the first two years from mom and dad. After that, Co-op jobs, regular jobs, and partial scholarships were enough that I didn't need their help.

I lived extremely cheap in a series of truly awful apartment houses, walked everywhere, ate a lot of potatoes, noodles, rice, etc, but probably got as much out of that part of the experience as I did the classroom.

My parents never visited once, not even for graduation. They didn't go to my high school graduation either, so I really didn't give it a thought at the time.

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Re: How much will you pay for college/have paid for you?

Post by Toska2 » Fri Dec 22, 2017 8:26 pm

I received a half ride from college + $2000 state test scholarship. I dropped out after the third year ME.

I got a one-way 180 mile ride from my brother using my parents vehicle.

I resent the disparity of what my siblings got and I did. It wouldn't be so bad if it weren't the long term repercussions honestly. I developed ERE's 60-70% savings rate when I was 17. I skirted child labor laws by working two to four jobs, I worked 90 hours a week in the summer, more during winter if you include the mandatory school hours.

Later, every time my parents would comment, "you should live a little" I tasted a hint of bitterness in my every reply. I was living a life of decadence comparatively. This has gone on for 16 years.

Now I worked 6 of the past 18 months and my net worth is holding steady. My net worth will be more than three of the four others combined. The fourth got a trade union job with lots of OT.

(I got garbage bags to keep my stuff dry when I got a real job. Had to borrow money from the girlfriend to actually get there. My parents wouldn't loan me $200 to start a $45k/yr job)

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Re: How much will you pay for college/have paid for you?

Post by suomalainen » Fri Dec 22, 2017 10:40 pm

My dad loaned me $5000 and gave me a shitty little car to get started at college. I had paid half of the loan off when he forgave the rest when I got married. Wife and I borrowed for undergrad and had pell grants and I had a half scholarship. We left with about $20k each is student loans. Then I borrowed $180k for law school. My dad gave us $1000 to tide us over during my first summer during law school when we were flat broke. The car died in law school and we had to borrow to buy another used honda. Good times.

I had a work buddy once named Ray. He had a great story. He had borrowed to finance his college. The day he got home from his college graduation, his mom was in the kitchen and said his graduation gift was upstairs in his room. He had circled a fancy stereo in a catalog for her so that’s what he was expecting (this was the 80s). He goes to his room and there’s a check for the amount of his student loans. He goes down to the kitchen and gives his mom a kiss on the cheek and says “Thanks ma”. I miss Ray. Probably my favorite client/colleague ever.

I’ll probably do something like Ray’s mom or my dad. Force the kids to borrow, budget, make wise choices, be frugal, not be entitled little shits, and then one day...wipe the slate clean.

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Re: How much will you pay for college/have paid for you?

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Sat Dec 23, 2017 8:30 am


It's kind of hard for me to answer your question, because I have always had an err on the side of "laissez faire" parenting style. Also, I am an eNTP, the one style of rational that is likely to not do extremely well within the educational system. For instance, I attempted to drop out of school and educate myself by reading books in the library in alphabetical order by author when I was 14. My brief mid-life attempt at dual master's in econ/math was doomed due to realization that for somebody who had already run her own tiny business, studying econ was like studying sailing. Also, my advisor was this old Russian guy who grumbled at me about the uselessness of taking econ courses, if you have brains enough to take math courses. So, if either of my kids had indicated any desire to drop out of the educational system and embark on any other course of endeavor at any time in their lives, I likely would have been supportive.

Anyways, my DD26 is an xNtJ, so she popped out of the womb complete with the manual of how best to run her own academic and social life. Except for the fact that her bedroom was always a complete disaster, she was the easiest child on the planet to raise. I mean, I dropped her off for her first day of nursery school, and when I came to pick her up, she was already best friends with the teacher's son, and running a little lemonade stand by the front door. Every request she made of me as a parent was so reasonable, I would usually just feel guilty that I hadn't known to fulfill it beforehand. So, when she announced her intention to accept an academic scholarship to a very expensive private university, all I said was "Are you sure you want to go to a school full of rich Southern kids?" My doubts were further assuaged when I attended a reception for respective students, and all the other kids were raising their hands, and asking questions like "If I choose Track 2C in my Freshman year, will I still have the option of study abroad in my Junior year consequent with 5 year program for dual M.S/pre-med?" She ended up taking out some loans to cover her living expenses in such a posh environment, but she told me that she thought it was a good investment just in terms of lifelong social connections, and I think she might have been right.

My DS29 is an INTP, and simultaneously a serious scholar and a terrible student. I made at least a couple errors in parenting judgment with his academic career. If I had it to do over again, I would not have allowed him to start kindergarten at the age of 4, because although he could already read and write, his development was actually delayed in other areas, such as sleep pattern. His unfortunate inheritance of my ADD-like"spaciness" combined with his paternal grandfather's OCD, gave him great difficulty in completing assignments such as "Create a diorama exploring the theme of 'To Kill a Mockingbird.' " I considered home-schooling him, but he is very introverted, so I would not have been well able to further his social development through more voluntary activities such as boy scouts. What I mean when I describe him as a serious scholar is that in a household where he was offered free choice of wide variety of reading materials, he always chose books on topics such as the Peloponnesian war; and two days before the event, he would remember to tell me that he needed a ride to the state finals for the National Geography Bee. When he was around 13, one day he emerged from his study (bedroom full of books in extremely neat stacks covered with dust), and he was smiling as he told me that his Wikipedia edit to the topic of linguistics had been accepted. Anyways, he has been in and out of a variety of "useless" academic programs, such as Aramaic Studies and working-man jobs such as Apprentice Meat-Cutter since he was 17. Now, he has somehow ended up both working and studying in the field of Accounting!?

So, the point I was trying to make is that IMO, you really only have limited control over outcome in this realm, and the older you and your kids get, the more it will become apparent that you didn't influence them at all in ways you might have planned, but you did influence them quite a bit in other ways that you didn't foresee at all. Also, it never ends.

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Re: How much will you pay for college/have paid for you?

Post by jennypenny » Sat Dec 23, 2017 10:10 am

We gave our kids the equivalent of an in-state education. Lucky for them, Pitt and Penn State have two of the highest in-state tuitions in the country. Poor planning on our part.

We told them at the beginning of high school what the financial plan was and encouraged them to plan accordingly. We were willing to nudge them pretty hard away from unmarketable degrees or convince them that certain degrees like teaching didn't need top-dollar educations if necessary. We also discouraged them from pursuing degrees solely for potential financial gain so they wouldn't end up miserable. In the end, we didn't have to do much nudging. We raised them ERE-style and they knew how and where to spend that money to make sure they got what they wanted out of it.

DD managed to squeeze a five-year program out of the money that will include @18 months in China by the time she's done next year. DS is taking a similar five-year route that includes time for co-ops and internships in far-flung places. They had to go far away to find colleges cheap enough to get what they wanted (which was hard on them), but I think it helped them transition to adulthood instead of being plunged into it on graduation day.

DS2 who is still in HS is going to be more of a challenge to our firm commitment to that level of spending. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. At least he's knows himself well enough to know it will be a challenge for him. He's already talking about going to the same college where DD is planning to attend grad school so he can live in her apartment to save money lol.

I would be very hesitant to pay off student loans right away or give more money than we've planned on giving. They need some ownership of their education and need to learn how to handle money. Besides, life is never smooth ... I figure there will always be opportunities down the road to help them out financially. No need to empty the magazine by the time they're 25.

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Re: How much will you pay for college/have paid for you?

Post by Fish » Sat Dec 23, 2017 10:54 am

Scholarships and fellowships are great financially, but also have the effect of extending "financial childhood." The university took over my parents' provider role and the stipends paid for all my needs. There's simply no way to gain perspective on money until you've worked for a living. Real life for me started somewhere around age 23(*). In retrospect, I had my retirement frontloaded to me in life. :shock:

(*) Up until that point my job titles were: professional student, research assistant, and summer intern. No jobs in highschool (because childhood). An extremely sheltered life.
suomalainen wrote:
Fri Dec 22, 2017 10:40 pm
Force the kids to borrow, budget, make wise choices, be frugal, not be entitled little shits, and then one day...wipe the slate clean.
I kind of like this idea, but if it has the intended effect the last step seems completely optional. I never had any experience from "behind the starting line" so I don't know what it feels like to be in debt, or rescued from debt. As a parent with resources, it would pain me a bit to see my kids walking the same path as Viktor K. Not because it's bad, but because it's hard. (@Viktor - maybe you can chime in here if you're reading?) Often I find that those I would like to help most, don't really need it. They already know how to take care of themselves.
jennypenny wrote:
Sat Dec 23, 2017 10:10 am
I would be very hesitant to pay off student loans right away or give more money than we've planned on giving. They need some ownership of their education and need to learn how to handle money. Besides, life is never smooth ... I figure there will always be opportunities down the road to help them out financially. No need to empty the magazine by the time they're 25.
Excellent points Jenny. If 7w5 is right about "it never ends" then it would make more sense to let the kids take care of themselves and be there for them as a safety net only as needed.

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Re: How much will you pay for college/have paid for you?

Post by suomalainen » Sat Dec 23, 2017 6:48 pm

I dunno. When I graduated from law school, I had $240,000 of student loans. Added $275,000 of mortgage a year later. It was “good” to have to work for 11 years to pay those off (the mortgage via a personal injury settlement after getting hit by a car while on my bike), but at the same time...I think the lesson is learned after a few years of paying it down and getting the settlement (similar in feeling to a “gift” even if it was “earned”) was very helpful. Being under so much debt for so long is really grinding.

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Re: How much will you pay for college/have paid for you?

Post by NPV » Sat Dec 23, 2017 8:22 pm

What about the international strategy (i.e., sending them to study in Europe, especially Germany/Nordics where tuition is almost nil compared to US rates)? Sounds like both a richer experience (international aspect) as well as much lower cost. My kids are still small, but I do not see spending on their education something that would be more than 10% NW or so, given both how useless and how expensive conventional US higher education seems like. My underlying philosophy is you should get someone to pay you to learn (job), or at least learn for free (e.g., MOOCs / your own projects / volunteering). With such an abundance of paying/free opportunities to learn spending x00k on US university tuition seems like a waste.

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Re: How much will you pay for college/have paid for you?

Post by Scott 2 » Sun Dec 24, 2017 10:13 am

My parents co-signed loans. I got some minor academic scholarships. I worked full time in the summer and half time in the school year. I think their child expenses remained similar to my final year of high school.

I made the mistake of attending a top tier private university, when I am not research or status driven. I realized pretty early on it was a bad deal, every hour in classroom was cost $50, ignoring opportunity costs of not working. My first job in University was paying 5.85 an hour, for comparison. That contrast motivated me to focus, pick a major that maximized my AP credits and earning potential. I got out in 3 years and was earning about $15/hr at my half time job (at a gym!) by then.

Graduating with $50k of debt into a recession, it seemed obvious I'd better knuckle down and keep my finances in order. Knocking that off in a couple years reinforced fiscal responsibility.

My parents putting the debt on me, taught the lessons I needed for real financial success. I was mature enough to learn them, but I think if everything had been paid for, I would have never found the urgency to graduate early, work during school, triple earnings working at a gym, or live cheaply on a professional salary.

I do wish I'd taken one of the academic scholarships being offered to me by"lesser" schools. My wife's University would have given me a full ride. In many ways, her education was superior to mine.

Graduating in 3 years was a great financial move, one of the smartest I made in my 20's.

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Re: How much will you pay for college/have paid for you?

Post by Smashter » Sun Dec 24, 2017 12:07 pm

I graduated from an Ivy League school back in 2009. The cost was roughly $50,000 per semester. My parents were expecting to pay for everything, especially since my dad had his best earning year ever in 2006. That was his first year of running his own business, and he was on top of the world. When we submitted my financial aid paperwork, the school required that we pay full price, and we were happy to. My Dad was able to to do this for the first 4 semesters, and then the bottom fell out.

My Dad's invoices were as high as before, but his clients simply stopped paying him. It was the dark days of the financial crisis. My dad's business essentially shut down, and we almost lost our house. Making matters worse, it was hard to prove to the school that we now needed aid. I am honestly not sure if this was because of the quirks of how income gets reported by the IRS, or if my Dad was just too overwhelmed to put the effort into figuring things out with the financial aid office. I wish I would have been more helpful.

I racked up 160k in student loan debt when it was all said and done.

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Re: How much will you pay for college/have paid for you?

Post by Tyler9000 » Sun Dec 24, 2017 1:05 pm

I graduated from a decent (but not premier) private school in 2000. It has been a while so my memory is a little foggy, but I want to say it cost about $10k a semester for tuition and fees which I remember thinking was insane at the time. I had a half scholarship, so my bill was about $40k total and I split the loans evenly with my parents (although I eventually paid off both because I thought it was the right thing to do). They also provided me with an old pickup for transportation, while I covered the gas and insurance via an easy PT/summer job.

That amount may seem trivial by today's ridiculous standards, but in retrospect I did a few good things that I'm super thankful for that would also be applicable today:

1) I lived on campus my freshman year, but got a cheap apartment with roommates every year after that.

2) I never got into the college party scene and really didn't drink at all until after I graduated. I think it was mostly because I was too busy just trying to keep my head above water with engineering homework to screw around. ;) In any case, that saved a lot of money and kept me focused.

3) Starting during my sophomore year I enrolled in the engineering school co-op program where I alternated semesters (including summers) studying and working at a major local company. It only extended my schooling one year, while it easily paid for my apartment and meager expenses and was terrific work experience as well. I also really liked how it paced school and gave me time off from studying every other semester. I can't recommend that path highly enough.
Last edited by Tyler9000 on Tue Dec 26, 2017 12:50 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How much will you pay for college/have paid for you?

Post by Kriegsspiel » Sun Dec 24, 2017 2:13 pm

I got an ROTC scholarship that paid for college. My parents gave me some help with food, and other than that I had jobs in the summer plus an ROTC stipend for food and rent my senior year. If I hadn't gotten an ROTC scholarship I would have enlisted in the Army. I'm undecided on whether I'd pay for any future kid's college if they don't get scholarships to cover it, but I'm leaning towards not (and encouraging them not to take out student loans to do it). I would rather see them learn a trade if they hadn't exhibited the intellectual chops to earn a scholarship.

Probably depends on circumstances at the time though, I don't think this is something I'd have a hard stance on now on principle.

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