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ED or not to Expensive Ivy League School

junk4rpjunk4rp 4 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
My S20 is set his heart for an expensive Ivy League school since his middle school. He currently seems to have the stat/EC to be a pretty viable candidate in ED. While we are upper middle class 2 jobs family and can possibly pay for his education, if he gets in, a close to $80K/yy sticker price is scaring us. We will not qualify for any need based financial aid.

How do people manage to send kids to these kind of colleges? How do you handle child's dream vs. depleting some of the retirement savings?
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Replies to: ED or not to Expensive Ivy League School

  • socaldad2002socaldad2002 1294 replies26 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 30
    The honest answer is that some upper middle class families started saving for their kids college education when their kids were little (i.e. 529 plan) and now have a very nice nest egg for their kids college costs.

    Other ways are family money such as generous grandparents or inheritance; significant gains in real estate or other investments over the last 10 or 15 years; or flat out wealthy families where spending 320k for elite private college is a drop in the bucket.

    I personally would never borrow that kind of money for undergrad for my kids but I would consider borrowing 85k and child borrowing 25k for an elite education if I had already saved the other 200k over the last 18 years.
    edited August 30
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  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls 5396 replies1 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 30
    In the vast majority of cases I do not think that it is worth taking on significant debt or wiping out your retirement fund for an undergraduate degree. If you are going into computer science, engineering, or nursing then you do not need a degree from an Ivy League school. If you are going into a field that requires graduate school, then save some $$ for graduate school. Harvard, Princeton, and Yale are great universities, but they do not have a monopoly on anything that they are going to teach an undergraduate student.

    We were in a similar situation with a daughter who was #1 in her high school. According to the NPCs the top US schools that she would have been a candidate for (top New England LACs -- she wanted a small school) were going to be unaffordable without taking a big chunk from our retirement savings. She is at a very good but affordable small university. She will graduate with money in her college fund left over for graduate school.

    My inclination is not to pay this much for a bachelor's, but save it for a master's. PhD programs are typically fully funded.
    edited August 30
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 33430 replies363 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    How do you handle a "child's dream?" You start with a realistic assessment of what's affordable to your family. You temper the child's "dreaming." There are many ways to achieve a fine education besides hocking your own future.

    Besides that, it's a lot tougher to get a tippy top admit than just stats and assuming the ECs are enough. You want your child to be informed and rational. It's more than dreaming.

    Have you run the NPCs on some colleges?
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  • 1NJParent1NJParent 1253 replies33 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 30
    Nearly all privates, Ivy or not, roughly cost the same (give or take $10k/year or so) before any aid (based on need or merit). Merit-based aid is really a form of "discount" to entice some students away from schools that don't offer it, or schools that wouldn't offer it to these students. The Ivies and few others (Stanford/MIT/Caltech) offer no financial incentive based on merit because they don't have to. For families expecting aid and sensitive to the amount of aid, ED could be problematic, but only about a handful of tippy tops offer EA instead of ED.
    edited August 30
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  • helpingmom40helpingmom40 30 replies2 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Rule number 1 is determine what you can afford and that becomes the starting point for the college list! You have to manage your son’s expectations. Just like you wouldn’t encourage a kid with a 1200 SAT score to apply to an ivy, you can’t encourage them to apply somewhere you can’t pay for...especially not ED, which is a binding agreement.

    Rule number 2 is repeated by financial advisors all over the country - DO NOT sacrifice your retirement savings!! There are loans for college but no loans for retirement.

    Bottom line is if you can’t afford the tuition and can’t/don’t want to refinance your house or take out other loans, find other schools. There are schools where students can get merit based aid for high stats. You have to do what you can afford even if it is less flashy or exciting than what you want.
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  • thumper1thumper1 74205 replies3245 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    After you get the budget set....rule number 2 is...

    Don’t let your kid get their heart set on an expensive Ivy League school. These are not a slam dunk for admissions for even the most qualified applicants. With below 10% acceptance rates, that means 90% or more do not get accepted. In that 90% of rejected applicants, most are very well qualified applicants.

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  • dropbox77177dropbox77177 183 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited August 30
    Run the NPCs. Consider how much you can cut back your lifestyle in the event that your child gets into an Ivy. You might be surprised at how true the law of diminishing marginal utility really is: even a 50-75% reduction in discretionary spending will result in far less a percentage reduction in happiness.

    Consider what your son wants to study, and his realistic earning prospects. Obviously, don't break the bank for silly majors, although consider that if your son is most interested in a typically nonmarketable field, an Ivy degree could counterintuitively be the better value in the long run. Name recognition counts for something, and the degree follows you for life.

    Personally, assuming that we were on the cusp of financial aid eligibility at an Ivy - say, $200-ish K per year in salary with typical assets, prospects and health - I think $100K debt total over the 4 years would be appropriate, with the Federal max ($31K?) on my kid's balance sheet if possible. I think the prestige of the degree is worth that to a family with that rough level of income and assets. Obviously, this is a personal decision, and I'm just offering a personal perspective. YMMV.
    edited August 30
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  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids 84004 replies1012 threadsForum Champion Financial Aid, Forum Champion Alabama Forum Champion
    junk4rp wrote: »
    My S20 is set his heart for an expensive Ivy League school since his middle school. He currently seems to have the stat/EC to be a pretty viable candidate in ED. While we are upper middle class 2 jobs family and can possibly pay for his education, if he gets in, a close to $80K/yy sticker price is scaring us. We will not qualify for any need based financial aid.

    How do people manage to send kids to these kind of colleges? How do you handle child's dream vs. depleting some of the retirement savings?


    Be honest with your kid about how much you can pay each year. Run the Net Price Calculator and show him the result.

    YOu are under no obligation to let your child apply ED or attend a school that you can’t afford. Parents aren’t obligated to fulfill kids’ dreams.

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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 29210 replies57 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Your son is a smart young man. If he can absorb the concepts of calculus and other advanced high school courses, he can understand basic living finances. It’s time you share the number with him and show him what it takes to live, what is reasonable to risk and how interest works on college loans.

    He’ll only be able to take out $27k in Direct loans without you co signing or otherwise getting involved. Show him what interest rates do as they start a clicking and adding up the instant the funds are disbursed each term. Get the info for Parent labs, the PLUS, the immediate charge and interest rates. Explain how the co-signing of loans can hamstring both parties in credit issues even after either student or parent dies. How stuff happens in life. Time for an education of a whole other sort than he has been getting and a very important one.

    It’s absurd at times when we have kids wanting to be Finance, Business Econ majors and they are eyeing schools that involve huge amounts of student and parent debt , with no thought of the consequences
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  • PublisherPublisher 7721 replies80 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited August 30
    @junk4rp : Did your son stop learning & growing in middle school ? Of course not; so why stop learning & growing with respect to higher education ?

    A great starting point is to discuss acedemic interests & possible careers. This should lead to research of, and discussion about, a much wider range of colleges & universities.

    From a human nature standpoint, it is better to generate interest than to deny based on cost alone.
    edited August 30
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 33430 replies363 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Too many kids get set on a tippy top because that's all they've heard of. Not a great way to choose. You need to learn more, what options and what chances. Not stop on the first name he clung to. Get a Fiske Guide and get excited about other schools. Matches and safeties, before reachy "dreams."
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  • itsgettingreal17itsgettingreal17 3934 replies26 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    If you need to dip into retirement, it’s not affordable. There are hundreds of great colleges out there. Find some he would love and that are affordable.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77683 replies678 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    If you live in a high COL area, if you’ve just started making a high income, you have other special needs, had some rough years, there might not have been anything you could have done.

    Those who just started making high income after previously making middle or low income probably have middle or low income spending habits, so they should have lots of extra current income that could help pay for kids' college, even if they do not have as much previous savings. For example, a family that previously made $70k ($56k after federal income and payroll taxes) that now makes $140k ($105k after federal income and payroll taxes) is getting $49k per year (after federal income and payroll taxes) beyond what they were accustomed to living on. A family that went from $140k ($105k after tax) to $260k ($185k after tax) is getting $80k more per year (after taxes).
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  • coolguy40coolguy40 2064 replies2 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Money is the great fact of life when applying to colleges. The best thing to do is run the net price calculator on his schools. That should give you an idea if you can afford to send him there. If you have to dip into your retirement, it's unreasonable and you'll have to say no. If he has the stats to get into an expensive school, he has the stats for a scholarship. That's a far better deal than a prestigious school.

    The dream is never a college anyway. It's really a fantasy. Dreams directly convert to profitable accomplishments later and it should always supersede what school you go to. College is just a tool to get an entry level job. It's no more a dream than owning a Chevrolet.
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 29210 replies57 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    When you just start making a “high” income, there may be immediate pressing needs to be addressed, other than paying for college out of said income. Like replacing the unsafe junker. Finally repairing the roof, getting out of unsafe neighborhood. I’m not taking about huge leaps of income categories.

    My SIL finally got a job in Silicin valley after being unemployed for quite a while in Midwest. They had scads of bills to pay, some true priority items including medical bills and family loans, outrageous credit card balances, etc in addition to taking on a huge uptick in costs moving to a high COL area. It has taken them a while to adjust, and high tuition payments would not have been a wise use of their money.

    I know they cannot afford their current EFC because, there are no savings for college, and given some uncertainties savings for other things have much higher priority than college. Had they had a more traditional income history instead of years of abject poverty and then a middle income that couldn’t get them caught up, it would be a whole other story. But, yes, their last 3 years of returns would generate a large EFC each year. Before that, they were likely PELL eligible even.
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  • gpo613gpo613 319 replies21 threadsRegistered User Member
    Can you afford the cost? Yes then apply ED best chance to get in. No then don't apply.

    How do people pay for 70-80K per year college? A million different reasons/ways.

    It really is that simple. Only you know what you can pay.
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