A year ago, what did you really expect to pay for college?

<p>First of all a thanks - I've been visiting this board for only about a month but have received LOTS of good advice and enjoy cruising the different opinions here - a great place to spend some time!</p>

<p>My daughter is a senior - great GPA, top 3 in her class, great EC's including good leadership and most of all a wonderful young woman (who could ask for more?) If you would have asked me a year ago, I would have thought we would end up paying very little for college - that's what we heard from so many places - "get great test scores and you'll be all set" . Well we got the great scores, but will also probably be shelling out a good bit for college.</p>

<p>She can go tuition free to a couple of local mid-american conference colleges but they are not her choice because of size, vicinity and most of all, not real impressive in her academic major (communications, maybe PR) . Her 1st choice is a smallish LA school with a second to none comm/PR program. It fits her other requirements (close to home, comfortable campus etc.) but it's about $37,000 total a year. While I don't think we'll be getting any fin aid via FAFSA (maybe work study) and I think the school will try to help us the best they can (they have great endowment $$) I still can't help but feel a little disappointed...</p>

<p>Anybody else feel this way? Our decision won't be final until the fin aid package comes from the school - boy I can't wait to have that all settled!</p>

<p>I feel that way on behalf of a lot of my friends whose incomes are comfortable but who certainly can't afford $200,000 per child for UG. When the admissions people said "100% of need" I had no idea, until I heard from some of my friends, what they meant by need. Pretty shocking.</p>

<p>Sorry, welcome to our world. Top students often have this choice. Free tuition at local, State or lower ranked school or full or near full tuition at top schools. A difficult choice that many of us have had to deal with. There is no right answer to this question. Each family has to decide if the top school is worth the money.</p>

<p>Yes each family has to make that choice...!</p>

<p>I think it's a little more difficult for my husband to see why the LA school is worth the extra $$$ - I feel confident it is a better choice for her needs, learning style, etc.</p>

<p>We don't want her to be strapped with oodles of loans after college. But I think we're starting to realize that some will be necessary. She has some $$, we have some $$, she will get some scholarship $$ from the school itself, and hopefully some outside scholarships. There must be some figures on what the "average" loan amount college kids graduate with having to pay back - anyone have that info???</p>

<p>Abasket, the USN&WR "big book" contains the average loan amount for graduates that you are looking for. I've never purchased the online subscription, but I suspect they include the information there also.</p>

<p><a href="http://www.usnews.com/usnews/edu/college/rankings/rankindex_brief.php%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://www.usnews.com/usnews/edu/college/rankings/rankindex_brief.php&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>I was just thinking about this today (I don't think it's an obsession yet). You spend your life trying to stuff some money into your pockets, while many others are dipping into your pockets and taking the money out: Federal, state, and local govt taxes, property taxes, mortgages... meanwhile there is a hole in the pocket so money is leaking out the bottom. So you have this thing going, stuffing money in the pockets, money getting picked out and leaking out, and then along comes college and rips your pants off!</p>

<p>NJ - LOL!!!!</p>

<p>No kidding!</p>

<p>I feel a little slighted - we saved what we could as did my D. Very rare "real" vacations, average cars, etc. etc. - do wish I had known ahead of time to "hide" her $$$ in other accounts not in her name - oh well, we learn now for kids 2 and 3...!</p>

<p>My money come and it goes, my money comes and goes.. my money comes and goes and rolls and flows, rolls and flows through the holes in the pockets of my clothes... (I think it's an old pete seeger or arlo guthrie song ;) )</p>

<p>There are lots of excellent liberal arts colleges where your daughter could get a lot of merit money. The problem is, if she has her heart set on one particular place...So, yeah, you'll pay through the nose. Flexibility is the key to affordability for families with very good students and very high EFCs.</p>

<p>I'd also consider that she may not have to go to the BEST communication program because (a) it's very possible she may change majors and (b) she's likely to end up at grad school.</p>

<p>As a parent with a very high EFC, money saved in our kids' names, and a kid with a nice merit scholarship at a school a rank below what he could have got into, all I can say is that I'm glad we have savings, I'm glad we can afford to send him to a great school, I'm glad he is doing well, he's challenged and he's completely happy, I'm glad there will be no student or parent loans, and I'm glad we'll be able to retire someday and still have a life in the meantime. So there's the bright side! :)</p>

<p>We actually are paying less for college than I thought we would have to, and it has been more affordable than I thought. We are paying our EFC (as determined by the FAFSA) out of pocket, and it seems reasonable. DD has scholarships and grants (so there are no loans or workstudy in the packet), but her school is using the FAFSA EFC to determine our need, and it is doable since we are fairly frugal - have no car loans or debts other than mortgage. (Now, next year may get a little hairy, with two in college, but we'll have to see). And yes, it was hard saying good-bye to the "full-ride" offers that she got, which would have meant us paying nothing - but we feel that it is worth it. And, re: loans. a lot of people think that students should not take out more than $20,000 in loans, total, for undergraduate education. I agree with that.</p>

<p>"When the admissions people said "100% of need" I had no idea, until I heard from some of my friends, what they meant by need."</p>

<p>There's a difference between "need" and "desire". (Hope they still teach that in sex ed. ;))</p>

<p>We require our kiddies to take out the (unsubsidized) Stafford loans regardless of public or private. They know this at application time. We believe they should be invested in their educations and establish credit. We do pay accumulating interest during schooling years. Four years of loans is about $17,000.
They also know that they are expected to continue to make progress and complete their degrees on time. Failure to do so (barring medical necessity) requires them to pay back all we invested in their degree.
Upon degree conferring, our costs on their behalf and loan interest payments become our gift to them.</p>

<p>I agree with just about all of the above!!!</p>

<p>Her school of choice is a good choice I think and they have offered a fair amount of $$ based on merit right off the bat - she attended a scholarship day a couple of weeks ago and I am PRAYING that that might result in some more - and I'm not saying it's the BEST comm school but has a excellent program with an innovative program, lots of professional experiences while a student, etc. PLUS the school while LA has an excellent broad range of other programs if she should decide comm is not her field of choice. </p>

<p>I really think it's just the waiting that is KILLLING me!!!</p>

<p>^ I hear ya' on the waiting. We're in a hold pattern with son #2 and it is very hard. I'm worried he's getting "sold" on the schools he's heard from earliest...</p>

<p>as cur points out, efc stands for "every freakin' cent".....LOL</p>

<p>But, if you are full pay, then your resources put your family in the top ~5% of the nation. Why are you disappointed about your personal success?</p>

<p>btw: I don't buy the "second to none" educational value of a single department/major. Number two, whoever that is, can't be THAT far behind.</p>

<p>"But, if you are full pay, then your resources put your family in the top ~5% of the nation."</p>

<p>3%. (actually, currently it is probably around 4%; I need new national income data.) Perhaps it is best to say more than 45 percentile points from a family with middle income.</p>

<p>My best friend is one of the Country's leading PR people, a SVP at a large international firm. It's her belief that a liberal arts degree from a good college is better than a communications/PR degree for the profession. </p>

<p>With great stats, I think your daughter should compare offers from as many schools as possible.</p>

<p>i think the problem here is that your income puts you in a bracket with relation to where you live.</p>

<p>a family making $200,000/yr in oregon, wyoming, sourth carolina is in a completely different financial situation vs. say a family living in long island, north jersey, connecticut, chicago suburbs, etc.</p>

<p>since it costs much more to live in those areas - and even though you may be in the top 4% or so of the population in terms of income, you are certainly less comfortable than someone living in the middle of no where.</p>

<p>"We are paying our EFC (as determined by the FAFSA) out of pocket, and it seems reasonable." I about gagged when I read this. Then I noticed the poster is from Texas. Those of us in expensive east or west coast urban areas just can't afford the EFC. The cost of living is already staggering and with progressive taxes, there is not much left over. Of course, when we do finally retire, we can always move to Texas and feel that we are living for free.</p>

<p>If you're referring to me the poster, we are no way in the upper 5% of income! Our EFC is $13,500 - we are a family of 5 - just seems weird that D doesn't have a car, electronics etc. that many people spend their $$ on but now she will see all her savings disappear with the hopes of a car dashed for now. Yes, college is more important than a car...</p>

<p>You also have to remember that not all kids want a college experience at any college, anywhere. She wants to go away but be in easy reach from home and I don't think that's a bad thing. It does however, limit your choices of schools...</p>