Feeling obligated.

May 12, 2013 · 50 comments

You already know Girl Ninja and I spend a few days a week hanging out with high school kids through a non-profit organization Young Life. You also know that we’ve gotten to know these kids pretty well. Whenever our friends ask us when we are going to have kids I always tell them “We already have kids.” About forty high school kids that is.

One of our Student Leader’s is a Senior. She is graduating in a few short weeks and is heading to Grand Canyon University in Arizona in the fall. She got accepted to five different schools, some local here in Seattle, and a few out-of-state schools, but after her visit to GCU she didn’t need to consider her future any further.

 We are excited for her. 

Well, that’s not entirely true. Part of me is excited for her, but a bigger part of me is worried for her. Being the PF nerd/blogger that I am, I feel like I should sit her down and explain to her exactly how student loans will impact her finances upon graduation.

A quick check of the school’s 2013 tuition, housing, and other fees indicate it will cost around $30,000 each year. Or in other words, 4 years at the school is gonna run each student about $120,000. I’m pretty confident she isn’t getting a huge scholarship, and I don’t imagine her single mom can help a ton. Let’s just assume she’ll graduate with $80,000 of debt, after working part-time and qualifying for a few scholarships and/or tuition assistance programs.

Lord knows when I had decided I wanted to go to a small private school in San Diego, no one was going to stop me from getting there. You coulda told me I would have $200,000 in loans and I wouldn’t have cared. Debt is so foreign to most high school kids. They don’t really have incomes and they don’t really have expenses. Why the crap would they know or care how interest impacts student loan repayments?

Normally I wouldn’t feel obligated to have a Personal Finance intervention with someone else, but in this case I feel like I have to. Not because she is going to be $80,000 in debt. But because she is going $80,000 in debt so she can be an elementary school teacher.

Ugh. 

This girl doesn’t know that $80,000 means she’ll be making $850/month payments for 10 years just to get rid of them. What’s more, while I’m sure she knows starting teachers make between $30k and $40k depending on the school, she definitely doesn’t know how health insurance, income tax, rent, groceries, etc can destroy a paycheck.

If she was going to school major in business, chemistry, or engineering then I would just mind my own business since those fields have potential to earn a significantly higher salary. But when she is going to have an $850/month student loan payment on a very predictable $2,200/month budget, I have to at least  break down the numbers for her. I mean she’ll have $1,400/month to cover literally everything else; food, rent, car, phones.

This makes me very sad. Although I feel like I should say something, I probably wont. I feel like if I sat her down and broke all this down for her, I’d only be doing it so I could say Told ya so four years from now when she walks across the stage with a diploma and a fat student loan obligation.

Maybe I should just tell her to check out this really cool blog I know called Punch Debt In the Face ;)

Do you intervene when you see someone putting themselves in a financially stressful situation? Even when they have the best of intentions? Would you have really been able to be talked out of your college of choice after you had already sent in your deposit money?

{ 50 comments }

1 Barb

Talk to her. How many of us would have loved a big brother or someone who cared to sit down with us and just take the time to explain things. Even if we wouldn’t have appreciated it at the time, in hindsight we all do right? Even if she won’t listen, that’s ok, you expect her to make her own decision anyway, but she might take some of what you tell her with her and it might stick. if not today, maybe in the near future. And who knows how it might effect her decisions lateron.
Not talking to her is a sure bet she won’t benefit from all that you have learned so far. Why not take the change talking to her might just give her a tiny bit better perpective than most of her peers? You have nothing to lose. (not to mention mention karma points and all that, but that’s details)

2 StackingCash

I’m surprised that you would not advise her since she is one of your “kids.” Unless you do not care about her ruining her life with a heavy student loan in a non lucrative field. Granted we all tend to learn the hard way, it is not always the best way considering debt can be such a debilitating burden over many years. Especially since it cannot easily be bankrupt. I would almost rank student debt up there with a teen pregnancy…

3 Cordelia Parker

Are you kidding me? Student debt is nothing like being responsible for another person for 18 years, and possibly the rest of your life. Many people pay their debt off much sooner than 18 years.

Also, paying money every month is a lot easier than changing diapers, giving all your income to caring for a child, and dealing with everything else parenting brings.

This is a joke…right?

4 StackingCash

I did say “almost.”. Using Ninja’s example of 80k student loan with 40k income, I do think the difficulty of repayment is extremely high, not as easy as you seem to think, hence my comparison.

5 Cordelia Parker

Not even almost. Comparing having student loans to having children is just ridiculous. I have a lot of student loan debt, but I still recognize that I am freer than people who chose to have kids. I go where I want, do what I want, I don’t have the burden of caring for a child. Yes, I owe some money. To compare that to something as life changing as having a kid is ridiculous. To compare it to TEEN pregnancy is ludicrous.

Again, this has to be a joke, right?

6 StackingCash

Hi C! I didn’t recognize your new handle. I would think you would have understood my comparison considering you are under a debt that is so far from being repaid. I guess comparing teen pregnancy to your situation is wrong because a baby would die with neglect whereas your student loans just grow with neglect. I stand corrected.

7 Cordelia Parker

No. It’s wrong because student loans are not a baby. Paying back debt isn’t parenting. End of story.

8 Jonathan

Wow, I never expected to be in agreement with one of C’s rants! But she’s absolutely right – student loan debt is nothing like teen pregnancy. Or even “early 20s pregnancy.” Having a child is infinitely more than a financial obligation. Debt is nothing but a financial obligation. If you don’t pay your debt, some lender loses a little money (and typically, that lender is a corporation rather than any individual person, so the loss is spread over thousands of shareholders). If you don’t feed, shelter, and nurture your child, you have the potential to ruin a life. Similarly, children require time, attention, and love in addition to the financial costs. Debt requires none of those. And saying “almost” doesn’t make your comparison any more appropriate.

9 Chris

I agree. It’s a lot of responsibility so young. Just think about how many teen mothers need help with their child because they are financially unable to take care of that child. The same goes for student loan debt. How many people do you know graduating from college with this burden have to go back and live with their parents because they don’t have the cash to both pay for their loans and rent.

10 T'Pol

I would definitely talk to her. She may end up not changing her mind but at least she can try to get other scholarships or she may work to lower the future burden. Run the numbers for her, show how much needs to be allocated for insurance, housing, etc. so that she can better understand what is to be expected.

I cannot imagine starting a life with a boatload of debt.

I think you may regret not talking to her later if you truly care for these kids.

11 Jane Savers @ Solving The Money Puzzle

I encouraged my own sons to go to school in our city and live rent free but no one listens to their mother but they might have listened to a respected teacher.

Both of my boys will graduate with about $40,000 in student debt and I am a single mom and can’t afford to help them very much.

12 Claire

You’re not trying to talk her out of going to college. You’re not trying to talk her out of being a teacher. You are trying to help her achieve her ambitions in a sustainable way. she is more likely to stay being a teacher (if that’s what she loves – it’s very hard to tell at 18 ) if she isn’t saddled with huge debt.

It is very important to help people realise their dreams in practical solid ways, which is the angle you should use when talking to her.

13 scooty006

I would ask her to search “student loan debt” and read some of the stories that come up. Maybe hearing about some of the debt mistakes others have made will help her avoid some mistakes of her own. Most of the time those folks would not take on that debt again if they had a 2nd chance…….

14 peppercb

Why don’t you do a PF series geared towards your high-school kids? Topics could include budgeting, student loans, consumer loans, real costs of living on your own, taxes etc..

She is not the only “kid” who is making these PF decisions. You may not change her mind, but more information can’t hurt. It is possible that she received more tuition assistance from the out of state school then she did from the in state schools therefore making them almost equal in tuition costs.

15 graduateliving

I absolutely agree with this. Rather than singling her out, why not sit down with all of the graduating seniors in YL? There is plenty of scripture that talks about money management, but more importantly there’s plenty of scripture that talks about leading a life not driven by the “things” of this world, which often lead to debt. (Let me be clear – a degree is not necessarily one of those things, and while $80,000 is a LOT of money, a degree can lead to a [perhaps high-paying] job later in life, while expensive clothes, dining out, and booze will provide no return at all).

As all of the seniors move into the next phases of their life, it’s probably worth it to talk about finances that will be relevant to them: living like a college students while in college (or just starting out), the REAL cost of things that go on credit cards, etc. Use a few blog posts – yours or from other blogs you enjoy – to drive home this point.

Good luck!

16 Sara

This! (Intelligent comment, I know.)

Maybe you should sit down all of your seniors and have a conversation about student loans and money in college? Those that have more active parents are probably getting them from home as well, but you’re closer to their age so your thoughts are probably going to be more relatable.

17 SavvyFinancialLatina

I think this would be a great idea. That way it wouldn’t seem like you are targeting her specifically, and others could use the information. Maybe the kids can share ideas on how they are planning to pay for school.

18 Angela

Since you already have something of a mentoring relationship with this student, I think it would be totally appropriate and (hopefully) effective to talk to her. In my limited experience of talking to kids about money, I’ve found that real, concrete numbers get through. Talking in abstract terms about interest and opportunity costs doesn’t relate to anything they’ve actually experienced. If you run through two sets of numbers for her – one based on tuition at her dream school and one based on a more affordable option – and then leave the decision to her, she’ll probably get it. She may not respond favorably initially, but after the cold hard facts have been swirling around in her brain for a few days, she may come around. Good luck to you and to her!

19 Ryo Vie

I would talk to her (or a group as has been suggested) but I wouldn’t have any expectations. When I was younger I used to try and intervene all the time. Then I learned a valuable lesson, people need to learn things on their own. It is the only way that we can move on and do what is right for us. Failure is a much greater teacher than success and I honestly believe that.

I made so many mistakes in my financial life growing up, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. When I hit the debt wall and screamed “I won’t live this way anymore!” It triggered a lasting change in me. A lifestyle change. And the only person who can implement a change of that magnitude in someone is that person themselves.

However, talking to someone and explaining what to expect is never a bad thing. I wouldn’t expect much out of it, but you may sleep better after having done it. And don’t say I told you so in four years. No one likes to hear that….

20 Tracy

Please DO talk to her. I wish someone had done as much for my husband. Instead we are still paying on his student loans many years later which is keeping us locked into jobs we may not love but at least allow us to pay our bills. She may not change her mind, but at least she’ll know you love her enough that you care to give her the information she needs to make an informed choice. (Biggest travesty of our education these days is not understanding simple finance – we can learn calculus in high school but we don’t learn how to work a simple budget or finances.)

21 Jordann @ My Alternate Life

I have lurked on this blog for YEARS and never commented. This post has forced me to say: DO IT. The reason I say this is because I would’ve wanted you to talk to me six years ago when I decided to go to one of the most expensive schools in Canada in the most expensive city in my area. I ended up with $40k in student loans and the last two years have been hell trying to pay them back. If I’d had someone lay out the numbers for me like you could for her, I would’ve chosen differently, and been happy to have the advice!

22 Larry

People, especially young people who are eager for their first taste of independence, can be stubborn. They don’t want to be told what to do. A lot will depend on how much trust has been built up between you and this group of kids. But I think the suggestion above to hold a group class could well be the best solution to this dilemma, as it will affect many of the kids sooner or later and in this way the girl will not feel singled out or individually persecuted. You can take the stance that personal finance is rarely taught as a subject in schools, and that most graduating students, who are accustomed to being dependent on their parents, are unfamiliar with concepts that will affect every aspect of their lives for decades for come. And while you’re introducing them in a basic way to budgeting, debt, saving, investing, taxes, etc., don’t forget to point out that student loan debt is almost impossible to discharge in bankruptcy and is therefore perhaps the most dangerous kind of debt to take on.

I had a roughly parallel situation last year with a young lady who checks my groceries, at the time a junior in high school. She told me she wanted to study accounting and finance at a private school about 500 miles away, mainly because that’s where her boyfriend goes to school and it’s not far from her grandmother. And of course her father wants only the best for her. Without going into the ridiculousness of her reasoning, I told her that she could get as good an education close by, and that she might want to think about the implications of taking on the equivalent of a small mortgage by age 22. I doubt I had too much influence on her final decision, but now she is planning to go to a low-cost community college for two years and to get a combined BA-MA at a local private college for the three years after, all while living at home. I then suggested the very well reputed state university not much farther away (my own alma mater), but what she decided was good enough. There’s no disadvantage in going to a community college for two years; it’s only where you get your BA that counts. And by going for two years to a school that costs $3000 a year, she has already substantially reduced her potential debt, which is an excellent step in the right direction right there.

23 Camille

My parents talked me out of going out of state to avoid student loans. I was dead-set on going to an out of state school when I was applying to colleges. Once I got in to a few schools that would cost me $40,000+ a year, they sat me down and told me what it would mean for me and how I would struggle and stress, not only after school, but while I was in school. (very important to me)

I listened and graduated from an in-state school debt free. Now I look at my friends with 90,000+ plus in debt and I know they wish that someone had talked to them the same way my parents talked to me.

She may not listen, but what if she does?

24 Stephanie

I can’t add anything that everyone else hasn’t already said but try running a projected budget with her too. All my parents said was “you won’t make very much money” and left it at that. Well since I had no idea what things coat or how much comes out of your paycheck for healthcare and taxes it was difficult to make an informed decision. I plan to take a much more practical approach with my own kids.

25 Allie

I couldn’t have been talked out of going to my out-of-state school, BUT I did try to make up for some of it by attending community college over the summer to take pre-reqs and worked during school to pay down some of the debt right off the bat before it could accrue interest. It wouldn’t hurt to talk to not only this girl, but all of the seniors.

26 Kyle

I don’t always intervene when some one is making a financial decision that will give them more stress down the road. The only people I’d give that advise to are my little sister and bother, and maybe someone else who specifically asks about it. I guess I’m a little over protective of my family.

As far as college goes, I didn’t really want to go so I picked the local community college and transferred to the local university afterward. Not long after that I dropped out. But even with only $10,000 in loans I think our monthly payments are ridiculous. I can’t imagine having to pay $850/month for my loans!

27 Diane

To your second question – yes, I was talked out of a pricey college after I had signed my letter of intent, made the cheer team, been awarded their top band award with promise of orchestra first chair, and many other things….. I know that my life would have taken a completely different path with the private school but the choice was based solely on finances.

For your first question about what to do……what exactly is your goal in sharing college PF? Once you know your goal – then what are the alternatives you are going to give her? Community college for first year? Part-time college while working full-time? Have you thought about finding her programs in education that pay for college after a commitment of a certain type of work? For example, in Kansas City our local University has an Urban Education program that pays off college after the kids have taught for a certain number of years in an urban school. There are similar national programs in exchange for teaching in 3rd world countries, Native American reservations, etc……

So long as you balance it with the social cravings of a typical 18 year old – she is going to be a kid and make mistakes too.

28 Phoebe@allyouneedisenough

I love the idea proposed by other commenters to sit down the whole group and give them a lesson in personal finance. It’s something everyone can benefit from and it won’t make her feel singled out.

Personally, I almost never give personal finance advice with the exception of my immediate family, and then only sometimes. I do see extended family members and friends making what I would consider poor decisions, but I have to remember that not everyone has the same goals or values that I have.

But when my little sister was considering an expensive apartment for her first home after college I tried to explain how expensive simple life stuff can be, but in the end she got it anyways, and once she decided I was totally on board and happy for her because she made an informed decision.

In the end, I want to help those I love and am closest to but once they have the information it has to be their decision.

29 Tiffany

Please talk to her. I wish someone had talked to me about the consequences of student debt before I attended a pricey, private college and racked up about $150,000 in student loan debt. Fortunately I graduated with both a BA and MS in a field that has salary growth potential. However, my savings and 401k would be a lot happier if I had selected a cheaper school. I didn’t know the reality of signing a promissory note at the age of 18, and chances are neither does she.

30 Zach

I usually give people a choice. By now, most of my friends can vouch for my financial knowledge and some of them have even heeded my advice. If I see someone doing something I think is risky in their financal lives, I tell them “I understand this is something you really want to do. Would you like me to go over the risks and challenges you face or do you just want to learn it on your own? I can help you but I totally understand if you don’t want my help.” If they say no, I say okay and that’s the end of it. We go see a movie or get lunch or whatever. If they say yes, I don’t start off with everything horrible that could happen, I take it slow and make sure they understand what life after will be like.

31 Karie

I think the most important thing is that they go to university. I would hate to scare someone away from higher education.
People can live simply after they graduate from university and have roommates and pay low rent; make simple meals; find free entertainments. If you`re sitting down with all your kids, I would tell them all the positive things they can do to help with tuition, how to make good choices and how to be resourceful! Good luck!

32 Erin @ Red Debted Stepchild

Please talk to her. I wish someone would’ve warned my 18 year old self about taking on so much debt and I went into a field with more income potential.

33 Rachelle

Talk to her Ninja! A BA can be picked up anywhere…and because of that, should be undertaken at the most cost-effective location. When she learns more about herself and what she actually wants to do, she can be a bit more discerning with her school choices and more intelligently qualify the debt. But now, she can get the same experience in Seattle…for a whole lot less!

34 Whitney

Definitely talk to her. I got a scholarship for really good University here in VA but despite the scholarship it was still cheaper for me to go to my local community college so I took that route and worked 24 hrs a week paying for my own rent, expenses, tuition, books etc. I did take a few federal loans out but only the ones that did not accrue interest until I graduated. I worked full time during the summer and breaks to pay back those loans. When I finally graduated, 5 yrs later, I had $3000 in loans which I paid back with all the graduation money I received from my family and friends. Yes…I never got to go to spring break and I drove a POS car but I still had fun and I have $0 school debt. She needs to find a co-op in the field that she wants to work in to build job experience so when she graduates she will be more competitive. I was a recruiter once while working for the secretary of the navy for the intern program and I liked seeing kids that worked hard. Work gives kids confidence too. She can easily start at a community college and finish at a great university. Its the 4 year degree that counts. She does need to know too…recruiters don’t go to online colleges. I think also before all kids go to college they need to look at ads for the jobs they want when they graduate to see 1) are there lots of job possibilities 2) what is the starting pay 3) are there any jobs local or will you have to move from family and friends. Watch the “ologies”!! You most likely will need a doctorate or MD to make any money with an “ology” and this adds time and money. I have a Biology degree but took about 30 credits in business towards the end, now I negotiate and award contracts but this is b/c I worked as a student in contracting while going to school. I never thought I’d end up liking it. A job is a very important process of the “education” while in college.

35 Larry

Regarding college, the point should also be made that more and more, you can get a decent education at most schools. I know this directly contradicts my assertion above that “it’s where you get your BA that counts,” but in fact, unless you can get into and afford a top-tier school, you may not necessarily get a superior education at a pricey institution. A main reason is that courses are increasingly being taught by adjuncts and teaching assistants. Undergrads who have dreams of sitting at the feet of famous professors will often find those professors reserving their time for graduate students and their own research. And if you need to improve your writing or learn the difference between a debit and a credit, you can do just as well at a state or community college. If you’re paying big bucks for a private school, chances are great that you’re paying either for the name, or for the fact that it is privately supported vs. a state school. Generally too, in-state residents get better deals than out-of-state students.

36 Elaine Hall

I agree with you that in this day and age, creating mounds of education debt is not smart, especially if there are great schools nearby. My son had a college prepaid account, Florida bright scholars scholarship and a couple of smaller scholarships. He lived at home and graduated with honors from the Univ. of South Florida, 7 miles up the road. Then he found scholarships and graduated with TWO master degrees from Liberty University in Virginia, studying ministry online. He graduated from all of these DEBT FREE. He’s only got a part time ministry position now and if he had enormous debt, he would really be in a bind. When others tell me, “Oh our child needs to experience life on his own”, I say, NO. There’s plenty of time for that. Things are way too expensive now and the job situation is way too tenuous to have all that debt.

37 krantcents

I see GCU advertised a lot in southern California. They tout how it is similar to a state university in cost. I guess not! A college education is not more valuable based on how much you spend on it. It becomes more valuable with what you do with it. Unless you are going to one of the premier ivy schools, the debt will make a huge difference. Funny, those ivy schools usually have lower debt because of all the financial aid.

38 JE

I would say talk to her, but be careful how you do it. A lot of people think they’re doing someone a favor by sitting down and saying “your dreams are too expensive.” That’s not helpful. What is helpful is sitting down and saying “here is how you should work your butt off to afford your dreams.” Offer solutions. Yes, it will cost $30k a year. Perhaps she can find cheaper apartments, a part time job to pay down her tuition while in school, or even go part time so she can pay as she goes. Or even attend a community college for years 1-2 to save money and transfer to GCU for years 3-4. There a number of great ways you can bless her with your knowledge without crushing her dreams or raining on her parade. You just have to approach it from the standpoint of “let me help you figure out how to do this in a financially smart way!”

39 Mysti

Love the idea of the mini series geared toward the kids. You can even take it into a role playing kind of thing. Years ago (like, when I was a kid in the 80′s), The Cosby Show did an episode on this. The son figured he would be living high on hog……until his dad stepped in to show him the real world.

Give the kids some Monopoly money, and let them see how it all works.

40 Grayson @ Debt Roundup

Kids usually take things that break down their dreams poorly. I agree with others about how you should do a little series for all of them. This will not single anyone out, but can be very eye opening for everyone. I think she does need to be spoken with, but it is all about how you do it.

41 becca

I just googled Grand Canyon University- it’s a for-profit. Now, it’s a Christian for-profit that used to be a not-for-profit, but still… I can’t imagine they have much of a focus on making sure student loan debt is manageable. For-profit institutions have a comparatively poor reputation among academics, and one of the reasons is that at the worst ones, it’s easy to end up with a lot of debt and no prospects. It looks like Grand Canyon has no accreditation issues, but that may be because the for-profit corporation that bought out the private school is riding on the momentum… I’d worry if the standards will remain high. If the elementary education program isn’t accredited, she could have trouble finding a job (also, education is one of those areas where it doesn’t hurt to go to school in the state you want employment in… does she want to teach in Arizona?). Moreover, I would really want to see what the graduation rates are for Grand Canyon University. The only thing worse than debt for a degree is debt for a failed degree.

As far as advice, I think you should say something. Not to try to convince her that “this school is a terrible decision” but to inform her “this is what how that kind of debt can impact your future options, this is what I wish someone had told me when I picked my school, and if you’re going to follow any advice, please try not to take out any private student loans to make this happen”.

If she is totally set on this school, maybe even ask her if she’s SURE she wants to work full time for a minimum of 10 years, with no breaks to have kids (i.e. does she want to start a family after age 32?)? Or if she’s willing to work an an inner city environment?
Because if she goes to work for any non-profit entity (like the vast majority of K-12 schools, both public and private), she might be able to take advantage of the Public Service loan forgiveness option. With that program if you work for any non-profit and pay on your federal loans via the income based repayment plan, after 10 years of full time work the balance of the debt is forgiven. There are also teaching-focused options for loan repayment and forgiveness, but she’d have to be willing to work in an inner city or other high-need area.
IF she can get a job after graduation, THEN there are probably programs to help her pay back her debt. IF this is her dream school and it has good employment placement, there are ways she could make it work, but those ways involve their own tradeoffs.

Bottom line- this choice will greatly impact her life trajectory in ways she probably can’t imagine right now. Have a conversation about what’s important to her- long term as well as college-experience wise- and give her the best advice you can given what SHE wants.

42 StackingCash

I was thinking about this after reading krantcent’s post. I too have noticed advertisements for GCU in Las Vegas. I would be very concerned that this school is doing everything it can to sell itself instead of providing a quality educational experience. The for-profit schools are very savvy when it comes to marketing themselves as the greatest thing since sliced bread. More like a scam to get as much student loan money as they can…

43 Amanda

Honestly, I graduated in 2004 with not many people explaining the whole student loan thing to me. I knew that eventually I would have to pay them back but never realized how much the total would be when I graduated or if I decided to take a few years off and then want to go back when I was ready to go back that I wouldn’t be able to. If one sat me down in 2004 and explained the student loan process to me I probably would have listened half heartedly sadly to say. My best answer is do sit down with her and at least explain that process to her. Do not discourage her from attending the school but make sure she is doing her all to get those scholarships and even while she is attending GSU to keep looking for scholarships because they are out there. I always tell my clients who come to me when I prepare their taxes and are students; my first question is do you have student loans? If they answer yes, my first thing is to say at least just throw 20-30 bucks to them a month. They can get a deduction on the interest even while they are in school. If they say no, I still give them that same advice because it is good advice. I know that I had one this year who no one sat down with her, like with me, and explained that to her. It makes me sad that even with all the student loan debt the US has that no one is educating the juniors and seniors who are looking at these universities and explaining the financial aid and student loan process to them. They are not saying that in 4 years you will have this amount of student loans which equal this amount of a payment and your profession only makes this a year.

You have a huge opportunity to educate a young person and should at least sit and ask if she has thought about it.

44 spiffi

When I was in my last year of high school and applying to colleges, my biggest requirement was that the school had to be FAR AWAY from home. I loved my family, but I was desperate to move away and be on my own – and although there was a great college within biking distance of my house, where I could have taken my first year of classes – I refused to consider it, because I wouldn’t have been able to justify moving out of my parents’ house.

There were 2 quality universities within an hour’s drive – again – if I had gone to either of those, I wouldn’t have qualified to get into the on campus housing, and I *wanted* to live on campus for at least my first year.

I applied to a couple of universities on the other side of the country – and to the local universities. Thankfully, a university within a 4 hour travel time, not only accepted me, but offered me a scholarship to cover the first year’s tuition – it turned out to be a good compromise, as it was far enough away that I was able to live on campus, close enough to visit home when I wanted to (and as it turned out, I *did* want to visit home!) and yet far enough away that my parent’s couldn’t expect me to come home every weekend :D

I have to admit that I really don’t have a good sense of how much my college education cost me – I know that it wasn’t $30k per year though! Tuition was about 2400 per year (Fall and Winter terms) and I know that room and board on campus was about $4800 per term. After the first year and a half, I moved into the apartment style dorm, which was significantly cheaper up front, because you bought and cooked your own food.

I’m not sure that I could have been convinced to do anything different, but it would have been nice to talk to someone about student loans and the realities of paying them off – nobody in my family had gone to college, so there wasn’t anyone who could really talk about the realities.

45 Tina

Dave Ramsey has a college edition guide. I have heard them talking lately about a form students can fill out and get help with scholarships and fafsa. I think it is for a small fee. It’s worth checking out….

46 Catseye

She’s a kid, not an adult, so sit her down and talk to her. If she doesn’t listen, oh well, you tried. Your conscience will be clear.

47 Cordelia Parker

You should talk to her. She probably doesn’t have anyone to explain the ramifications of taking on such a huge debt. You would be doing her a huge favor.

48 Hannah

I would talk to her, regardless if she listens or not at least you knew you said something.

It is hard to talk to young kids about money and large debt like student loans because to them everything is like FUNNY MONEY! they don’t understand that honey, you gotta pay that all back. No matter how intelligent or straight edge they are I think it’s a hard concept to grasp.

Also it depends on how much weight you have with her. Will your words really make her change her decision?

Maybe use some graphs, clear numbers to explain to her.

My boy toy’s little brother wants to do one of those accelerated $50k programs for civil engineering. The kicker is that he is already $22k in debt from a state university school he got kicked out of last year (smart kid; priorities and dedication are off).

We sat him down and told him what’s up and he ended up walking out mad at us and thinking we’re negative nellies. We’re okay now, but I seriously wanted to slap him upside the head, I think he’s still gonna do it, but I could sleep in peace knowing we told him.

49 Kendra

Make sure she asks her financial aid office if she’s eligible for the Teach Grant, which could be worth $3700 – $4000 in free federal grant assistance each year: http://studentaid.ed.gov/types/grants-scholarships/teach. But beware, it converts to an unsubsidized loan if she doesn’t fulfill teaching requirements afterwards.

50 Dante

I would definitely discuss as part of the YL group. I wish somebody would have taken the time to do this for me.

We had our DD18 read Zac Bissonette’s book, Debt-Free U last year when we were going through the college selection process. He’s much closer to her age and it wasn’t just Mom and Dad preaching about the evils of student loans.

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