I recently read a book entitled “The Accordion Family” that discusses how families are being pinched from both ends when it comes to money issues and increased anxiety in cultures around the world.
It made me think about the question I hear a great deal, which is, “how are we, the Middle Class, supposed to afford college?”
Since the Congress and the President recently pandered to the electorate and kept subsidized student loan interest rates low through the election, it is easy to deduce that the taxpayers are going to be taking on an even greater debt burden when the Fiscal Cliff is reached in 2013.
I recently met a young woman from Massachusetts who is planning on attending college in Florida with the mindset that she’ll obtain residency there. Her Freshman year will be brutal with a $28,000 premium as an out-of-state student. The parents are taking on $28,000 in loans for the first year alone! That’s going to be a $340/month payment for the next ten years. However, once the student becomes a Florida resident (as a Sophomore), she’ll “save” that amount each year (knocking nearly $90,000 off her four-year bill).
That’s one way to minimize costs.
Another is focusing on colleges that offer merit aid. Traveling out of your “geographic comfort zone,” as I like to call it, can open up a world of financial possibilities for today’s middle class families.
The big question is, will the student be mature enough to make that move, knowing that it’s for a short time frame?
Some will and some won’t.
What to do about those who won’t? They need to be more savvy (as the NYT article above suggests) and look for colleges that value them as RPU’s… “revenue producing units.”
As a student, use your ability to play the accordion (or whatever your special gift may be) and take the show on the road to make the most of your college years, both academically and financially.