Our family is having a difficult time navigating some great choices. DS has been accepted so far to Princeton and 2 very good in-state schools. He has interviewed for merit scholarships at the in-state schools, but we will not qualify for any need-based aid. He is thrilled about Princeton and would choose to attend in a heartbeat (although he hasn't visited yet, so maybe that might change when he visits).
The problem is the money. We are very frugal, both parents work hard, and we have saved a lot of $ while driving old cars, living in a very small house, etc. We have previously told both of our children that we will pay for their college education if they work hard, which they have done. However now that our first one is about to go to school, the reality of 4 years of Princeton costing $260K is hitting us. We also feel that to be fair we would need to offer our second child the same deal, so now we are talking over half a million dollars.
Yes, we could technically afford it. However, we were looking forward to retiring in the near future, and that much of a college bill would upset that plan. In short, we are now considering telling DS that we will pay for some amount that is more than in-state but less than Princeton. He was shocked when this was mentioned and now I am really feeling at a loss as to what to do. I wish we had realized earlier how this would work out, but frankly I knew how slim the chances were of his being accepted to an Ivy, so I didn't think it was going to be a problem.
Any advice would be appreciated, thank you.