I’m back on College Confidential in the 8 years since I graduated high school to ask a bit of a challenging question regarding education financing.
I have a brother who is a senior in high school who wants to study a business or STEM discipline. He was an athlete in high school and an above average student academically, though he didn’t fare well on the SAT. He got into all of the schools he applied to, which were a mix of in-state public colleges, and out of state public historically black colleges. Kicker: he got close to no merit aid from any of them, and between growing up low income and my parents retiring soon (which is probably not adjustable), college savings and parental financing are not options on the list. Pennsylvania (where he is a resident) has some of the most expensive flagship universities. For now, he’s resigned himself to go to community college and figure it out from there.
Here’s where altruistic big brother comes in: I was one of the first men in my family to go to college, and only the second one to leave the state. Merit aid covered the vast majority of my education and I have little education debt (total balance is less than 15% of my salary/monthly payments are ~3% after tax, and I could pay it off in under a year if I wanted). I’m childless and (because of lifestyle choices) don’t expect to become a parent in the next 10 years.
For the above reasons, and because I recognize the tremendous impact access to traditional higher ed has on low income students lives if done the right way, I want to help fund the remainder of the balance. Presuming he lives on campus every year (he might not after sophomore year) - we’re talking ~15k annually. I’ve spent my career in financial technology, so I get all of the credit risks: I’d have to pay it back even if he doesn’t finish or find a job, it can’t be discharged in bankruptcy, regardless of whether his name is on the loan or not if my name is on it not paying will affect my credit.
My why: community colleges are notoriously bad at promoting students to bachelor’s degree attainment - especially students of color. I work in Silicon Valley and know very few people who started at community college who had access to the kind of opportunities I had either immediately at graduation or the years after. Doing the first half at community college, where my understanding is that internships especially in the private sector are at best very limited, would hamper him as he hunts for the coveted junior summer internship. I recognize I have a lot of biases about community college that have been formed by my professional experience, so would love to hear people weigh in on whether it is truly a viable option even for a year or two,
Anything else you think I should be thinking about, or if this is a really bad idea? Thoughts on whether to have him co-sign or not (my calculated repayment for the 60k over 10 years is only a few hundred dollars a month)?
EDIT: we aren’t talking about say, a middle of the road university and community college. He gained admission to his state’s best flagships - Pitt, Penn State, and Temple and wants to study STEM - I’m not sure there’s a cheaper way to get to a 4 year degree.