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Boarding School vs. College Savings Fund

3xboy3xboy Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
edited March 2012 in Prep School Parents
Our son has been accepted as a boarding student. Four years of boarding school will deplete the funds we saved for college. Are there any parents out there who have been in the situation of having son/daughter complete boarding school but have nothing available for college? Any options or opinions?
Post edited by 3xboy on

Replies to: Boarding School vs. College Savings Fund

  • 123mama123mama Registered User Posts: 122 Junior Member
    I haven't been in this position, but want your thread to get some thoughts and opinions. :)

    I would think about what prompted the boarding school aps in the first place, and what his current options are, to weigh things out.

    I don't know if this is with or without FA, but if your family didn't qualify for FA in the BSs, likely you won't qualify for aid in college. Merit scholarships are possible, but are often partial, not full.
  • D'yer MakerD'yer Maker Registered User Posts: 3,421 Senior Member
    Even if your son is only interested in colleges that are very aggressive about awarding financial aid, there's still a component of savings toward college that's assumed has been taking place. In a way, you're very possibly limiting his college options by spending those savings now, to pay for an experience that -- at least in part -- is geared toward expanding his options and opportunities. If you' would spend that money on other things and not sock it away for college, then you're doing him a favor (in terms of college matriculation) by spending it on boarding school. But if you're going to take that money and stick it away in a college savings account and keep it there, unmolested by anyone other than the investment bankers, his college opportunities may be expanded by your improved financial means. Of course this depends on what sort of situation he is in if your turn back on the boarding school path. One of the big lessons I learned going through the college admission process was how savings don't kill you in the financial aid game...but the lack of savings is very likely to throw up barriers to many colleges (mostly private, of course). If you've got a decent income, they're going to assume that you can pay partly from loans (although some colleges try to take a "no loan" approach to financial aid), partly from savings, and partly from current income. If you can't tap into alternative sources -- larger loans, grandparents, that account in Grand Cayman you forgot to disclose and just remembered, the Powerball coming through for you -- the colleges that assume you've been saving for college will not be financially viable options.

    Full-pay or even good saving habits don't necessarily get an admissions bump in a world where admissions is often need-blind -- but the financially viable options (which are the only options you care about, right?) are significantly better for full-payors and good-savers. If you're not at -- or close to -- the income levels that qualify you for full aid, you will very likely need to tap into savings for a private college. So there's a definite trade-off.

    I should point out that boarding school is not simply a vehicle for improving college admissions. You presumably have identified other benefits beyond that. The son who applies to college from boarding school and the son who applies to college from your alternative-of-choice will not be the same person. They are two hypothetical people and they are going to be bringing different things to the college admissions table. And, looking further, they'll be different hypothetical people long after college, too. It becomes a choice as to when and where you want to sink that savings in terms of how it will best work out for your family. I can't even begin to dream up the complex decision matrix this would entail...but I definitely want to confirm that spending that savings now to bankroll boarding school is going to have downstream consequences and create some restrictions and barriers if private college is in the plan for your son.
  • D'yer MakerD'yer Maker Registered User Posts: 3,421 Senior Member
    By law, colleges should have financial aid calculators on their web sites. Try visiting a few of them and plug in your current information with and without the savings to get an idea of how that impacts affordability. Don't try to guess which colleges your son will be applying to; just take a sample of colleges, public and private, and see how -- on average -- the savings dynamic might impact college options so that you've got real data you can process instead of my generalized say-so.
  • MathandMathand Registered User Posts: 11 New Member
    How much better is the boarding school option versus the next best option (private day or public)? If you feel like there is a substantial difference, my bias would be to invest in the child's development as early as possible.

    If future college choices are limited because your funds are exhausted, then at the very least you will have a well-developed child who will excel at an excellent public university.
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