No College Fund-What Do I Do?

I’ve been asking my parents about how I’m going to pay for college, and they recently told me they don’t have a college fund or any savings for me to go to college. We certainly aren’t rich, but we aren’t poor either, and my parents certainly could’ve put some money aside every month or year, so that new piece of knowledge threw me off guard. But also, I know very little of financial stuff so what do I know, maybe my parents really didn’t have anything to put aside. Anyways, I’ve been running estimated cost calculators, and they’re all coming out quite high, as our family income is over 200K. When asking my dad about this, he stated that he didnt realize his income would increase as drastically as it did these past couple of years as results of hefty bonuses in his paycheck, and he thought our family income would still be below 130K when I go off to college. That’s obviously not happening. I’ve been trying to find ways to help contribute to my future tuition, namely by finding a job so that there’s something saved up for college, but my parents refuse to let me get one because they want me to focus on my grades. What can I do? If any of you have advice on a path of action that I can take, Id really appreciate it.

Are your grades and test scores high enough to be eligible for merit awards?

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I’m sorry your parents have put in this position. Many parents start saving very early on but that is not your situation. As a student, you personally can not borrow more than $5500 year 1, $6500 year 2 and $7500 year 3 & 4 and you can supplement that with income from your own job. That would mean finding a community college or state school within commuting distance from home. Your parents may be able to qualify for loans themselves, if they are willing to do so. Your other option is to look for schools that give merit aid and where your stats are over the 75th percentile of accepted students. Many of those awards may not be enough to bring the price into what you can pay for. Your parents’ income is too high high for need-based aid and colleges calculate affordability based on past, present, and future earnings which means a portion of savings, a portion from current paychecks, and a portion in loans.

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And none of this extra unexpected income has been earmarked to help pay for your college education?

Show your parents how much the colleges that you are interested in cost, and ask them how they expect those expenses will be paid. Spending more time to get better grades in high school is great, but if one if the intents is to have a better chance at being admitted to competitive colleges, there has to be a plan to pay for those colleges.

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The very vast majority of students do NOT have college funds, or money set aside for college. You are in better shape than many as your family income exceeds $200,000 a year. Even a $130,000 a year income isn’t low income.

  1. Ask your parents what they can contribute annually to your college costs. Many families pay out of current income (that’s what the Thumper family did for two kids). Get the number $$$ your family can contribute. That is important for you to know.
  2. You can take a $5500 Direct Loan in your name only.
  3. As others have asked...would your stats qualify you for significant merit aid someplace?
  4. Look at all options that are affordable and keep an open mind. Many many students start off at community colleges. If you live at home and commute, your $5500 will likely cover most of the tuition cost.
  5. Run those college net price calculators. See what they say. Keep in mind that they are set right now for students starting fall 2020. They will be updated for the 2021-2022 academic year soon.
  6. Is there a public university within commuting distance of your home?
  7. What state are you in? Some have more reasonable costs for instate students than others.
  8. Keep this in do not need to attend a $70,000 a year college to become a successful adult after graduation.
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So have they said they will pay nothing? Are they prepared to contribute any yearly amount, such as $10,000 a year, or whatever?

If they aren’t prepared to contribute any amount, you are probably going to have to start at community college. Unless you can get very large merit awards, you will not be able to afford the costs of a four year university on your own. There are some ways around that, if you have very high stats. Full ride scholarships are out there, but they can be incredibly competitive to get.

I don’t understand the logic of getting good grades if you literally have no college choices other than CC. Frankly, if they won’t let you work, you can’t afford to even pay fully for college with the small federal loans the government will give you, which will be about $5500 your first year and will increase to about $7000 your last year.

Please ask your parents exactly how much they are able to contribute annually to your college expenses. Show them Net Price Calculators for colleges of interest. Ask them what they would like to see you do with your life, and explain that without a college degree, almost nothing is possible. Exceptions of course are being a skilled professional such as a plumber or electrician.

Are your parents from outside the US? They may not understand how expensive college is. Be honest with them and let them see the numbers.

Here is your recent chances thread title.

You are instate for Texas, and are a rising junior, and right now you don’t qualify for auto admission to UT.

How do you plan to pay for the schools on this list? Even the TX publics aren’t free. NYU and Georgetown exceed 70,000 a year in costs. If you go to HI, make sure you add in the expensive travel from TX. It’s unlikely you will get aid from Stony Brook as an OOS student.

You are not yet 16…so really getting a job will be challenging. Also, it’s not likely you can earn your college costs working a job as a high school student. But you probably could earn your spending money.

Oh…and you say you want to be pre-Med. If that actually happens, it would be best for you to have zero dollars in undergrad loans because medical school is very costly, and you likely will be paying for it with loans, loans and more loans.

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We were not able to save for college when the kids were young. H ran his own business and I left work to homeschool the kids. But once they were in high school H got a corporate job and I went back to work part time. We have +/- your parents’ income and pay for two colleges out of that. Both kids go to expensive privates but each got merit that covers about half tuition. They take subsidized loans and contribute their summer earnings (anywhere from $2500 to $5000). It can be done.

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Let’s get real here. “Almost nothing is possible” without a college degree? That’s just completely untrue and misleading. There are a lot of things possible for motivated young adults, beyond being a plumber or electrician, that don’t require a college degree and still provide for a livelihood and satisfying work. I know the name of this site is College Confidential, but getting a college degree is not and should not be the end-all, be-all for every (or most) American high school graduate. College is not an appropriate choice or available option for many people for many different legitimate reasons. There are lots of other meaningful options out there.

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You need to ask your parents what they will contribute. Like @taverngirl we were able to pay for college out of current earnings. Maybe your parents will…and maybe they won’t. You need to ask them.

While it certainly is possible to pay for college out of current earnings, this is a family decision your parents need to make.

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This is true. In my area students heading off to college is the exception, not the rule, and most that do go attend one of the local schools and live at home. Only two of my 5 siblings have a degree and ironically us two make the least…my sister is actually currently unemployed. All three of my brothers are doing just fine without. My new neighbor is 28 and just bought a 270K house, is married with a kid on the way, has a new truck and all the toys. Neither him nor his wife have more than a high school diploma (he does have a CDL though).

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An extra $75k/year for just 2 years is $150k. Can your parents put any of that toward your college? Ask them how much they will pay per year. That plus any merit you can get and the ~$5500/year federal student loan will be your budget.

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Have you actually sat down and talked about college costs? You just finished soph year, so your parents might not be thinking to have any in depth conversations with you. As they are upper middle classed, lets assume they are educated themselves and have an idea that your instate options will still cost you 25-30K a year unless you commute or are high stats enough to get merit money at the less popular schools. Ask about a budget guideline.
Definitely prep to get NMF. That is a huge help for some money at TAMU and more at UTD.

Your parents might well not consider paying OOS for you, much of Texas will be impacted by the double whammy of covid plus large incoming layoffs in O&G. That will affect everyone.

BYU HI? How is that in there?

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@Sybylla, 200k a year for income is upper middle class?

You know, I was not born American so the whole class vs income thing is a bit woolly for me. Feel free to add in your own rubric. Where I came from class doesn’t mean income. On CC, the rarefied audience of might well need 500K to be UMC.

@Sybylla, I can’t agree more that class = income. I just don’t think 200k is upper middle class. It is upper class.

It would be clearer if we separated class and income. I agree that $200k is upper income, and that has nothing to do with class.

kindamediocre, you need to get a budget from your parents. What are they willing/able to pay per year?

@BelknapPoint , your point is taken. I didn’t literally mean that there’s nothing you can do without a college degree. I was trying to help OP raise some talking points with parents, but I could have phrased it better.

There are great careers that don’t need college degrees, but I think OP wants a path that college will help him/her attain. @kindamediocre , any update?

How about community college and then transfer to an in-state public university?

You need to ask your parents what (if anything) they can contribute to your college education. You might be going this alone, unfortunately but there are options for you.

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OP is a pretty strong student, even without NMF she can likely get merit money at UTD, TT, UH and others. Unless covid budget impact means the end of merit money, which of course is all possible. She could look at UA etc. She won’t need to be a CC student.

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