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My parents have barely saved for college..

safarichick101safarichick101 Posts: 50Registered User Junior Member
I'm 14 so I know I have 4 years. One day I asked my parents how much money was in my college fund. They said $600.. and this was in 4th grade. I asked them again a few months ago...$600. I tried to talk to them about how distressed I was about this. They basically said it wasn't my business. Which I really don't understand because its my future. They aren't poor. They make over $100,000 per year. I wish they understood.

If I were to get excepted into an ivy, for instance, I would feel like I shouldn't go because I don't want them to be working all their lives to pay for it. And I don't want to be stuck in a lot of debt for the rest of my life. Does that make sense? I don't want to be stuck at my hometown university (Texas a&m). And I really don't want to be stuck in-state.

The schools that I have heard about and most want to attend are Bates and RISD. It would be my dream to go to one of those two but I know very well that that is above budget. I think about this now because I want to prepare myself to do the very best that I can do in school and get as many scholarships as possible. The thing I'm worried about with scholarships is this - It is possible that i might go to Canada for university because I have dual citizenship and as far as I have heard the colleges have much lower tuition compared to their american counterparts. And the new zealand schools (British commonwealth so I should be able to go there as well without too much hassle) are like rediculously reasonable. I might even try my luck for a european college (my dream is to live in europe). So i would need scholarships that can be used internationally if I do go that route, as it is extremely possible. I also am considering taking a gap year and interning in Costa Rica with conservation/biology to get a feel for it since that is one of the things I want to do in addition to art. I also might have to save some money with this predicament.


I'm sorry for just rambling.

I guess I could use some advice if possible. Thanks.
Post edited by safarichick101 on

Replies to: My parents have barely saved for college..

  • thumper1thumper1 Posts: 35,611Registered User Senior Member
    Most parents don't save for college so your family is hardly alone. The important discussion to have...and you should do this by the beginning of eleventh grade...is how much money your parents can/will spend annually on your college education. This will help you craft an affordable list of schools. It's fine to apply to some schools in hopes of getting enough aid to attend, but it is essential to also have schools on your college application list that you can afford to attend and would be happy attending.

    In the meantime, you need to do the best you can in your high school studies and do as well as you can on the SAT/ACT tests. This might make it possible for you to get merit aid in the event that your family doesn't qualify for need based aid.

    Maybe I'm wrong..but from my exposure and knowledge, most parents do not have a college savings for their kids.
  • r0kAng3lr0kAng3l Posts: 1,682Registered User Senior Member
    My parents didn't save up for college, too. I'm 17.
  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse Posts: 24,272Registered User Senior Member
    You are one astute kid. Many kids don't find out that there is no college fund until they are facing the tuition bill. The charade that you can go where ever you want to college is continued right on up to the point when the bill is presented. Then the howl of no money available goes up and the system is blamed up down and all around.

    It's tough raising a family and current needs such as living in the best neighborhood one can afford, the best public schools, the best house, the cars, the living expenses and, yes, the extras of life tend to cost every bit of what we make. It's a real fight to cough up any extra to save. And then we are supposed to be saving for our retirement as well. I know that my husband and I always contributed the maximum to our 401K plans because of the employer match and tax advantages. By the time we added up all of our current priorities, there was danged little left, if anything to put in any college fund. A saving grace was that our kids were in private school, ironically, that was a forced savings circumstance because we could not commit those funds to anything and had to come up with a budget with those tuitions included. So when our kids went off to college, we were relieved of that private high school tuition cost which just slid right over to the college payment column. Sounds crazy, but I truly think we would have committed those amounts to other things during the years if they weren't tied up in those tuition payments.

    But I digress. What I'm saying is that your family is typical. They read and hear that every good student will find a way, they feel that "what will happen will happen and it is meant to be" , and believe that if they save, it'll all just go against the financial aid anyways. I've heard of all of these reasons thousands of times.

    It usually comes as a huge shock when the fin aid forms are filed with all of the counselors, admissions directors, and articles cherering you on in the process, and your family is given a big fat EFC (expected family contribution). Even more shocking is if you are looking at schools that want even more info and a PROFILE is filed, and schools expect you to pay even more. Then you find out that most schools don't even bother to meet full need anyways, so the numbers aren't of any value many times. Disconcerting when a school that determines need by their own formulas aren't even going to meet it. And then you find that some schools that brag that they meet 100% of need (almost always, if not always by their own definition of need) meet that need with tons of loans.
    Most folks are not aware of this financial aid picture.

    As others have said, the best thing YOU can do is keep your grades sky high, work on the SAT tests so that you get a great score, and look for colleges that give out merit scholarships. Don't get hung up on certain colleges; you can have your preferences , but keep an open mind as to where you might go. And get to know and love those low sticker options, the financial safeties where you know you can afford to go.
  • annikasorrensenannikasorrensen Posts: 1,487Registered User Senior Member
    The question you need to ask your parents is "how much CASH per year are you willing and likely able to pay toward my college once tuition bills start rolling in?" Tell them you are trying to budget and make this work as a _family_.

    If they can't or won't give you a number, then you should read between the lines and assume $0 for planning purposes. Your parents may be embarrassed to not have saved up, or may just believe that college is not an investment for them but unwilling to say it aloud because in our society they will be harshly judged for it.

    Also note that 100K/year is really not as much money as you think. It is probably only 60K after taxes and what is left needs to pay off their mortgage, car payments, car insurance, car gas, utilities, medical bills, old credit cards, car repair, dental bills, orthodontist bills, cell phone bills, grocery bills, your clothing, your school activities, furniture, haircuts, house insurance, yearly car tax fees, save for major roof repairs (ours cost 12k!), save for their own retirement, and maybe have a few luxuries and fun along the way, too.

    The reality is that your parents may not be interested in funding YOUR "dream" college experience. The reality is that community college followed by a local state college is about 50% - 75% cheaper in sticker price and that full rides to privates are still a bit of a rarity.

    It may be shocking to realize your dream path is not going to be funded (much) by your parents but at least you have a heads up and can start planning some interesting and viable routes. It may not be much of a comfort, but many many many parents do not fund their kids' college costs.
  • DebrunsDebruns Posts: 2,713Registered User Senior Member
    I know I wasn't able to save very much at all for various reasons and I don't know many in our circle of friends that were able to either. If your parents didn't always make 100.000 or don't have a lot in savings, that will reflect somewhat on your EFC. Ivies, which you mentioned are a long shot, but give the best aid usually.
    I agree with Thumper, get the best grades you could, the best SAT/ACT's and spread your expectations in colleges.
    As mentioned above, full need colleges aren't always full-need, state colleges can be more than private and there are so many variances, you can't predict anything.
    You have a lot of options available, I'm sure you will be fine.
  • OlymomOlymom Posts: 1,686Registered User Senior Member
    You can ask parents to go with you to a local college financial aid night (many high schools have them). You can also ask for financial aid books as a birthday or holiday present (How to pay for college without going broke by Khany is good).

    Any kid who is asking for college money information instead of the newest Smart phone is sending a strong message to her parents. . .
  • ksarmandksarmand Posts: 2,743Registered User Senior Member
    My parents didn't save for college at all, but because I've received a helluva lotta money in the past few months (scholarships, family gifts, etc), I won't be paying jack squat this year. It's great that you're thinking about how to meet costs. Some suggestions:

    1. Scholarships, scholarships, scholarships. A few essays I wrote brought me $5,000. Do them - they're worth it.

    2. Special programs. Many private institutions and public ones will have honors programs that give full rides to students who meet certain criteria. I applied to the Macaulay Honors program this year and was lucky enough to be accepted. In the program, students are given free housing, a $7,500 study abroad stipend, one-on-one advising, free tuition, and a bunch of other benefits. These types of programs exist at a plethora of institutions - search for a few that interest you and apply.

    3. Your scores. National Merit is a great way to get money. Some schools will give you money for having SF status, and then there's the chance of getting money from NMC/other sponsors itself. During junior year, make sure to ace your PSAT. SAT is also a big factor in determining eligibility for Presidential Scholarships at a lot of schools, along with GPA. Try to maximize both.

    A few more things:
    Don't get hung up on certain colleges; you can have your preferences , but keep an open mind as to where you might go.

    Quoted for truth. I was fully prepared to attend my financial safety; my later acceptances were a pleasant surprise. If you get used to the idea of not going to a name-brand school and fall in love with it, you'll have a great time. Ultimately, how you feel about your school is one of the most important aspects of your college experience.
  • NuclearPenguinsNuclearPenguins Posts: 588Registered User Member
    Similar situation here, my parents have saved only abotu $5000 and I'm a rising senior.
  • RedrosesRedroses Posts: 3,293- Senior Member
    Bottom line, very few get to attend their dream colleges. That goes for poor kids on up through those looked at as wealthy. Colleges often make it sound like they will make it financially possible for all, but they don't.

    You can fall in love with an affordable school.
  • happymomof1happymomof1 Posts: 19,169Registered User Senior Member
    When your parents are a bit more ready to think about how they are going to help you pay for college, encourage them to run the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) calculators at FinAid! Financial Aid, College Scholarships and Student Loans and at College Calculators - savings calculators - college costs, loans This will help them to understand what the minimum amount most institutions will expect them to pay actually is. Usually families end up having to pay even more than their EFC. The numbers will probably be really scary for them - they were for me! You might want to have a box of tissues and some strong adult beverages on hand when they do this.

    Then talk with them about how much they truly can pay, and how much they expect you to come up with. Will you need to have a job during the summers and the school year? Is it OK with them if you take out student loans?

    RISD is a fantastic place, but it is fiendishly expensive. If you have your heart set on an art and design program, you should spend some time at the Visual Arts sub-forum. You can find it in the College Majors Forum. Here is a quick link for you Visual Arts and Film Majors - College Confidential You will find a lot of useful information there.

    Wishing you all the best.
  • GTalumGTalum Posts: 2,101Registered User Senior Member
    Talk to your parents if what their plans are for paying for college. We chose to fund retirement (various reasons) instead of college but fully intend to support our kids the cost of a state school education (we have excellent ones in our state). Our son is going to a top 20 state flagship and our daughter will be going to a private school with good financial aid. We will take out loans if needed. Knowing we have a retirement nest egg makes paying off loans for college more doable. Our financial strategy may not be the correct one, but it's one way to plan long-term finances. Maybe your parents have done something similar. Just because they haven't saved for college, it doesn't mean there is no money available.
  • sk8rmomsk8rmom Posts: 5,746Registered User Senior Member
    ^That's true...some people, myself included, like to have various pools of savings (emergency, retirement, college, etc.) and some use the pay everything off quickly (house, car, etc.) method so more current income is available. Depending on cost of living in your area and the number in your family, and lifestyle choices they've made, it may be more or less difficult for them to save...at this point, you just need to know that they have some sort of a plan for college expenses, have a rudimenatry understanding that their income (and possibly assets) are going to have an effect on financial aid you receive, and that their input into the process is vital. Instead of asking them questions that include "how much", try asking them if they would like links to the fafsa calculator so they have a ballpark idea of what they would be expected to pay if you were starting college next year. Let them know that you don't want your education to suffer or be a huge burden on them and that's why you are starting to research scholarships and aid methods now.
  • NorthstarmomNorthstarmom Posts: 24,853Registered User Senior Member
    OP, it would be a good idea for you now to start exploring merit aid and outside scholarships, and doing what you can to earn such money. Getting the stats, ECs, and writing excellent essays, etc. --all of which can help you earn merit aid -- are things within your control. Whether your parents save money for your college is not within your control.

    You also can start working and saving your money so you can start your own college fund. At your age, you can do babysitting, pet sitting, lawn care and similar jobs.

    And you can look for dream schools that are likely to be affordable for you. This includes in-state public schools and schools offering generous merit aid that you're likely to qualify for.
  • musicmommusicmom Posts: 2,261Registered User Senior Member
    We also have always saved hard in retirement accounts.
    We also saved enough for most of an instate public college education for our DS.
    Covered the rest with staffords in his name and a small college loan in our name.
    We are paying monthly on it while still saving for retirement. Plan to pay it off in a few years, way before we actually get to retire.

    TALK to your parents about what they can contribute. Just because there is not a dedicated "college fund' doesn't mean that they may not be planning on supporting you in a different way.
  • GMTplus7GMTplus7 Posts: 5,387Registered User Senior Member
    If I were to get excepted into an ivy, for instance, I would feel like I shouldn't go because I don't want them to be working all their lives to pay for it. And I do't want to be stuck in a lot of debt for the rest of my life. Does that make sense? I don't want to be stuck at my hometown university (Texas a&m). And I really don't want to be stuck in-state.

    It's not like there aren't a lot of options between the extremes of Harvard and Podunk U. There are many high caliber schools that offer merit scholarships. Even w 100k income, it seems probable that you would still qualify for some FA money. Even if your parents had saved enough money for full ivy tuition, the admission rates are a crapshoot.

    It's debatable whether your parents' lack of college savings for u is a good or bad financial decision. It seems like parents who save are parents who get punished with less FA grant money.
This discussion has been closed.