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Paying for college on my own?

Hannahbanana69Hannahbanana69 Registered User Posts: 681 Member
I think I've mentioned this on another of my threads, but I'd like to bring it up more specifically and in more detail.
My parents will not (unless something really crazy happens) be paying my college tuition.
Is this very unusual? I know that I won't qualify for financial aid; my parents have an excellent income and would not get a low EFC rating. However, they spend a lot of money on private school for us (a non-negotiable expense), which makes the number very inaccurate.
My parents are wonderful people who provide for me in every way. They paid for their own college (my dad only needed a BA for his profession, my mom paid for her BA and her employer paid for her MBA). If when I'm in college I need help, they will be glad to provide it for me. They plan to help me pay for room and board, and to possibly help me with some of my tuition. However, the burden is on me to pay my own way for college.
They do worry- they don't want me to go all-out in debt. They encourage me to apply to average colleges where I can get a lot of aid, and to increase my PSAT score to get NMSF/NMF and add to my application, to do really well on standardized tests, to take a lot of AP classes (which they pay for) to possibly bypass a year of college, etc. I've got the stats for a good school and possibly a great school.
What helpful comments/strategies do you have for me when it comes to applying for college? (I'm a junior.) Is legally declaring independence a good idea? What are strategies for reducing college debt? Anyone else in my situation?
Post edited by Hannahbanana69 on

Replies to: Paying for college on my own?

  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Registered User Posts: 82,545 Senior Member
    My parents will not (unless something really crazy happens) be paying my college tuition.
    Is this very unusual?.

    no, it's not unusual. And, it's not even unusual for families with good incomes. That's why most kids end up commuting to their local CC and/or state public. Most families do not have an extra $15k-25k+ per year to spend on one child's college costs.

    When students have an unaffordable EFC (which you have) you really only have a few choices.

    1) Get PSAT, ACT and/or SAT scores that are high enough for very large merit scholarships.
    2) Commute to a local state univ if tuition is around the cost of a student loan
    3) Commute to a local CC then transfer

    You can borrow up to $5500 for frosh year.

    They encourage me to apply to average colleges where I can get a lot of aid,

    Financial aid is based on your parents income/asset. Sounds like you won't get enough of that.

    Merit scholarships are based on stats. Have you taken a SAT or ACT yet?

    Are you taking the PSAT this month? Are you studying for that?

    Is legally declaring independence a good idea? What

    you can't do that. If that were possible, all kids would do that.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 63,485 Senior Member
    There is no way you can "legally declare independence" from your parents for financial aid purposes.

    I would suggest that you listen to them. They are willing to pay room/board and some tuition. Look for schools where you would at LEAST get a partial tuition scholarship. If your stats are THAT good, it is vey likely that you will be able to graduate from undergrad debt free with a combination of good merit aid and the help your parents are willing to give you. What they are offering is a lot more than many students are able to receive from their families.
  • happymomof1happymomof1 Registered User Posts: 25,347 Senior Member
    You need to know a dollar figure for what your parents are willing to contribute. That way you will know how big a scholarship you need to look for if you start at a 4-year institution. You also need to know if they will help cover the costs of a car, or other commuting expenses if you start at your local community college.
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Registered User Posts: 82,545 Senior Member
    you posted this several weeks ago....

    My PSAT score and PLAN score were in the linked thread, except they're too low because they're sophomore scores without a lot of my current math knowledge. When I retake the PSAT in October and take the SAT and ACT in May, I'll get back to you.
    My parents would love free, obviously . But I think they want offers, and when they see they'll decide. They haven't really had a college talk with me yet, so I don't know much about their finances except that we won't qualify for financial aid.
    Thanks, guys!

    When you say that your parents want "free" and that they "won't be paying for college"...what does that really mean?

    They plan to help me pay for room and board, and to possibly help me with some of my tuition. However, the burden is on me to pay my own way for college.

    Please ask them how much they'll contribute for Room, board, and some of tuition. Your parents may not know that R&B can cost up to $15k per year in some cities.
  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse Registered User Posts: 26,432 Senior Member
    Your parents are educated, and are atuned to the way things are. One of them even has a MBA. It's time for them to now become informed on how things work with college. Clearly, since they have been paying for private school tuition, education is important to them. IF they want you to continue in a private school, they must understand that it costs even more than the public universities. A lot more. Hopefully they are attuned to how things are that they know what the cost of college is these days, and if private colleges are considerations, they can cost up to $60kand more per year. Your mother with her business background should have a pretty good idea what your prospects are for employment and about how much you are worth on the market these days especially as a part time worker and that expecting you to pay that kind of money just is not going to happen. It would be good for them to invest in a book about financial aid and how to pay for college and to read it thoroughly. They should also know what the family FAFSA EFC (expected family contribution) and what the Net Price Calculations are for the colleges they have in mind for you. They should also know what the state university costs are including room and board. If you are expected to commute, then they should know what the costs for that are. All of these things are specialized pieces of information that they should know.

    As to what you can do in terms of getting financial aid, that is limited by what your parents income and assets are and if your family makes what the colleges consider enough to pay, they are not giving you any money regardless of what your family will actually pay. Nor do the colleges care about debt and other obligations. THat's why running those numbers is important. It gives you a good idea what the colleges expect you to pay and will hold you to it and will not subsidize you.

    Now merit money and scholarships are often awarded without regard to income and assets. Not all colleges give them out, and there are not that many colleges that give out large amounts. You need to look at the financial info of a college and see what the % of students are that get merit money and what the average award is . You have to be in the upper % of that college's students to get that kind of money. YOu need to check the websites for specific awards and find out what the chances are for you to get merit money. The NPCs help too. However, except for schools that spell out guaranteed awards. like "full tuition for SAT scores over X with grades over a Y", it is really all a lottery as to whether you get anything.

    In your situation, it is not really possible to declare independence. In order to be independent you need to be age 24, or married or have a dependent or be a veteran of the armed forces or be removed from your family by court order for due cause. None of those reasons are present. Court order situations are carefully examined to see if there are any abuse issues involved, otherwise they do no hold for college financial independence.

    So with your parents and counselors help, you can get a list of schools where getting scholarhships are possible with your test scores and grades. Looking at an old thread on how to get full ride scholarships would be helpful to you. THe author is Momfromtexas and you can find her thread in the archives here. But the most important thing you can do is to find a college or two that are sure to take you and that you know is affordable. Usually those are the local state schools and communty colleges. Do ask your parents how much they are going to be able to commit to spending, and that amount might broaden those choices more. You say they'll pay room and board, so with the $5500 you can borrow on your own and by working during the summer and school year, depending on what your state schools' tuition costs are, they may good options for you. Here in NY, a sleep away SUNY (state univeristy) runs about $20K total and the merit awards do not tend to be generous. But if mom and dad cover room and board, the loan and some savings and work on your part will do it. Catholic schools often have nice merit awards, and if some are local, that might be doable.
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Registered User Posts: 82,545 Senior Member
    You say they'll pay room and board,

    I don't know if that's what they've actually said. The student says that 'plan to help with room and board". That's not the same as committing to pay for all of R&B....and it's likely that they have no idea how expensive R&B can be. They may think it's $5k for R&B.

    I still remember my very educated neighbor (PhD) nearly falling over his lawn mower when we chatted about such costs. He thought R&B would be about the same as when he went to college...a couple thousand. He was shocked that R&B can be $10k-15k...especially at privates, but also at a number of publics as well. He couldn't believe that R&B actually cost more than the state tuition, which is what he had mostly budgeted for.
  • BobWallaceBobWallace Registered User Posts: 2,222 Senior Member
    I know that I won't qualify for financial aid; my parents have an excellent income and would not get a low EFC rating. However, they spend a lot of money on private school for us (a non-negotiable expense), which makes the number very inaccurate.

    You should run some net price calculators before you conclude this. Private schools that use CSS use very different calculations from FAFSA EFC. Based on EFC, we should have received zero financial aid, but we were offered as much as $20K/year by private schools. I ran the NPC for a couple of CSS schools with and without our private school tuition, and it was clear that they believed in partially subsidizing it with financial aid.

    That said, private schools are usually so expensive that even with generous aid they may not be affordable. Looking towards merit aid is a good approach.

    You may have a skewed perspective on what is an "average" college. 2,100,000 high school grads went to college last year, and only about 30,000 of them went to US News "Top 20" Universities, i.e. 1.5%, so there are many more colleges between there and "average". (And those 20 are not necessarily the best either, just US News' most favored.)
  • Hannahbanana69Hannahbanana69 Registered User Posts: 681 Member
    Thanks for all the replies!
    My parents are NOT in the dark about college at all. If anything, they know a heck of a lot more than me.
    I went to private school (and so do my three siblings) because it's parochial. My parents could not care less if I go to public or private for college.
    I haven't yet taken SAT/ACT, so it's tough. I got a 210 PSAT in sophomore year with only 9th grade math and very basic geometry (72 CR, 58 M, 80 W) and I plan on doing way better on the math section this go round (most of my mistakes on the math test were things I hadn't yet learned) and I got a 28 on my PLAN (highest in my school). My GPA is about a 3.9.
    When I said an average college to get aid, I meant merit aid. My parents are picturing an honors college at a more middle-of-the-road college and still getting a lot of benefits. Is that realistic, or do I need to be in the regular college?
    My dream school is Macaulay Honors College at CUNY (i'm not sure which one yet- I'm vaccillating between majors). I'm trying to work up the stats, and if I got to the one in City College I can commute. If I don't get in I'll probably focus on small Westchester-area colleges for merit aid or CUNY honors and get a loan. However my parents did say that if I get a really good deal from an out-of-state college it can be cheaper to travel back and forth than to pay more for a closer college.
    Either way I'm going to try to get a job in college (unless I get into Macaulay- they don't advise it). I work now and save most of it for the future but it's a very small amount so I don't know what it's gonna do.
    The whole declaring independence thing came from something I read on here that I must have misconstrued. Consider it never said.
    The room and board thing is from a conversation we had about accomodations. My parents came up with the idea that I could flatshare with friends to save money (even in NYC, we could get an apartment for a lot of money but split it up and reduce costs) or board. I'm very iffy about these ideas, and if I can commute to a college that will be what I'll do, but trust me, they do understand how much board costs. I dodn't say they'd pay it all, but they said they'll contribute a reasonable amount.
    At this point, I think they plan on my getting either big scholarships or loans (besides the 5500, I think that some colleges give merit loans). My principal was talking at the Sophomore Parents Planning Session last year about the aid that past students have gotten and I think my parents have gotten a bit too starry-eyed... Or heck, maybe I'll get married :).
    Thank you guys SO much for your help. I really appreciate it.
  • Hannahbanana69Hannahbanana69 Registered User Posts: 681 Member
    BobWallace: Oh, that's really cool! I was under the impression that net price calculators didn't take private school tuition into account, but if there's one that does then that's fabulous (my parents are paying loads). However, I did a search on CSS and pretty much got the software only :). Would you mind telling me what it is?
    My parents' colleges weren't bad, and in fact are solid, but I just meant that they weren't what they COULD HAVE gone to as very intelligent people (though my dad did bomb his SAT :) ). My dad went to a CUNY and my mom went to a small Catholic school (we're not Catholic, btw- just to clear that up) of the type that my parents are urging me to apply to (for their honors programs) to get merit aid. Their philosophy is very "you're a big girl now- if you can vote you can pay for your education." My dad was in the same boat as I'm in now (private school tuition, parents with good jobs but no extra cash, etc) and my mom had immigrant parents who are far from wealthy- there was no concept of their paying my mom's tuition. My whole extended family is doing the same thing- my cousin is now working part time to pay for her vocational program, my other cousin is working full-time and getting a degree online, etc.
  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 29,517 Senior Member
    This may not happen for you... but my daughter is a senior. Her best friend's parents were saying she could pay for her own college a year ago (first and only kid). After all, they paid for their own college. So she hatched a plan to get herself into a service academy. I personally thought it was a good plan for her, but her parents were horrified. They then spent some time with our school's college guidance counselor, and have switched to say that they will at least pay what they are currently paying in private high school tuition for her against her college expenses. That is something you could shoot for with them -- a specific commitment to match what they are paying for your high school towards your college. Then at least you would know what you are getting from them and could plan accordingly.
  • happymomof1happymomof1 Registered User Posts: 25,347 Senior Member
    Each college and university has a Net Price Calculator inside its website. Use the website's own search function to find it. If the college or university uses the CSS Profile, usually the NPC link will take you to the part of the Profile's website that has the specific adaptations for that particular college or university.
  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse Registered User Posts: 26,432 Senior Member
    If you do as well as most people do with a PSAT score as a sophomore, you will have a number of options in terms of merit awards. If the CUNY schools are on your list, and you can commute, those can provide you with very affordable options. Lehman College has full tution plus grants that even cover a computer and study abroad. The SUNYs, if your parents are willling to pay the board, as I said earlier are also affordable.

    Really, it comes down to how much they are willing to contribute and what you get in scholarships. You are in a Catholic school; they tend to be very much on the ball about scholarships for their students, so you will get information on that. Fordham has some generous awards for top students as well as Iona and I know a lot of kids that did well with Scranton and other Catholic colleges. Binghamton does not give merit money, the other SUNYs do in various amounts.

    Because those colleges that give merit money tend to give the most to those they most want, the higher your test scores and your grades relative to those at the college, the better your chances of getting a scholarship.

    Though it may well be an option, I don't know of any schools that give loan options except in financial aid packages. Private loans do require your parents to cosign and it puts both you and them on the hook equally. You would probably do better if your parents just took out a loan with better terms if their credit is good and you make a private arrangement with them.

    When you have your actual test scores and your junior year grades are solidified, you will better be able to see where you can focus your efforts. Being in the NYC area, gives you ever so many options that I don't think you'll have any problems finding an affordable school.
  • Hannahbanana69Hannahbanana69 Registered User Posts: 681 Member
    intparent: I was thinking about that, but I don't think it's fair to impose it on them (just when they're done!) and that's not the last expense they'll have for me. Unless I get desperate, I'm not going to say anything, because I feel bad asking. They don't owe me anything- if anything, I owe them so much, who am I to ask for more.
    I also do currently get a merit scholarship in my school, so the amount they pay is actually pretty close to the amount they would potentially pay if they helped me out for room and board and stuff like that. Most of the financial headache is from my siblings who don't get merit aid. (And to clarify, I'm NOT in Catholic school.)
  • BobWallaceBobWallace Registered User Posts: 2,222 Senior Member
    The cutoff for NMSF in NY was 215 this year, although it has typically been higher in the past, so your 210 as a soph is encouraging. NMF opens up a lot of merit options, including full tuition at Fordham, for example.

    Based on the stats you quoted, it's likely that you will have merit opportunities at "good" schools even without NMF.

    Macauley Honors is a nice program for in-state if you like the CUNYs. Many people consider City College "average", so it's possible that some of the schools you may dismiss as "average" are quite attractive to some of your peers.
  • BobWallaceBobWallace Registered User Posts: 2,222 Senior Member
    "CSS Profile" is the term to search. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CSS_Profile

    A couple of examples of schools that appear to give a partial subsidy for private school tuition are Princeton and Vanderbilt, based on NPC results (and in the case of Vanderbilt, also based on actual aid award that matched the NPC). There may be many others as well.
This discussion has been closed.