Sat parents down to discuss college plans

Predictably, my dad Gibbs-smacked me (GENTLY!) when I clumsily broached idea of going either alone or with just Mom on my road trip.

When they saw my school lists, they weren’t surprised I wanted OOS schools, and that most were in big cities. My dad was like,“We’d want to see these cities too!” His job doesn’t necessitate travel and he grew up working class, so he never vacationed much. They reassured me my 529 was doing great, and I should be able to afford wherever I want to consider.

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So make sure as a family you look at all the costs for All 4 years. It also helps to make a spreadsheet and list costs, due dates, scholarships, financial aid possibilities, etc etc. Sometimes just seeing everything on one sheet can show glaring differences right off the bat. Also include your local state schools and safeties. But start with what you have now and grow as needed. It will be helpful down the road. It’s also something that Dad can do with you to feel more of the process. We parents did it for /with our kids. Maybe it gave us something to do since we paid the bills… Lol


Thanks for the advice @Knowsstuff :). I definitely need to keep Montana and MSU in mind if my other plans fall through.

Michigan State University? It’s a great school. What does your list look like and what are you thinking of going into at this point?

Montana St. I’m planning on Area Studies/Foreign Language. My school list ATM:


Portland state is mostly a commuter school for older adults (average age is 27 I think).
Are you limited to WUE?
If interested in foreign language/area studies, why not include colleges that are topnotch for that: Dickinson, Kalamazoo, Tufts, not to mention Middlebury - or are those too expensive or out of reach stats-wise?


@MYOS1634 I forgot PSU was commuter! Yeah, those schools are probably too selective. Not limited per se, but they WOULD be less expensive

Run the NPC on Dickinson and Kalamazoo. =>Are they affordable?

@MYOS1634 I have a 529, so they likely are. (My GPA is 3.4 ATM, no tests yet)

Run the NPC; the 529 tells you nothing about affordability.
With a 3.4, Kalamazoo is a possibility, Dickinson is a reach if you’re really really good at languages, history, etc, and bad at math but took a challenging track nevertheless.


I think Dickinson is very holistic in admissions…if you can pull up the GPA and show a strong upward trajectory, show your strengths and enthusiasm I think you’d have a chance. The geographic diversity you’d bring would be a plus…maybe a big one. Dickinson is big on global and environmental issues and language. Not in a city, but on the edge of a very cute downtown just a couple of blocks away. The town has a fair number of mom and pop restaurants, coffee shops, gift boutiques, farmer’s market and the town library. One thing some see as a detraction, you might see as a plus…a fairly busy town street bisects the campus (a pretty, tree-lined street with stone fences, I have to say) and it does give the campus a livelier feel with some traffic noise and movement. Not too far from the state capitol, Harrisburg, so not completely in the middle of nowhere.

Dickinson was on my daughter’s list and one of my personal favorites. I think professors have a lot of enthusiasm and get to know their students. Study abroad, language houses and language tables in the cafeteria are huge at Dickinson.


Also make sure your parents are aware of the costs of these schools. If they haven’t looked at college tuition in a few years, they may be in for sticker shock. That savings they thought they had may not go as far as they think. You all need to be honest with your numbers.


@2plustrio I’m an only child so they haven’t had to think about tuition in nearly 30 years. So yeah, sticker shock might happen.

Compare the net price calculator results of various colleges (multiplied by four for four years of college) with the amount in the 529 accounts.

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I would also put some smaller schools in the area of your other schools on your list to tour. You may very well find that giant school and giant city is not a fit and if this is your one trip to an area, you might as well knock out some other options. The city of Phoenix has 5 times the population of your state! I would definitely add Northern Arizona to your visit list. I think there are a number of smaller school around the portland area as well that are worth at least visiting. I am bad at geography but University of Nevada Reno might be worth it if its on your way. And if you are driving through Colorado, there are a few good choices there. Also, do not underestimate how much of a hook being from Montana and being able to pay is for smaller, more selective schools. I definitely got into a law school I had no chance at by the numbers because of being from an underrepresented state and being able to pay. Finally, ask your parents what your total budget per year is. That will give you the ability to come up with a good visit list. Have fun dreaming and planning!

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Not might happen - will happen. If not, you’re an exception, and please share it here when you’re done.
My 3 cents: NPCs, the full versions (don’t even bother with the quick ones) are quite accurate - provided you know what goes into what category. Even financially educated people commit cosmic blunders there - like putting 529 into the protected investment category, with their SEP-IRAs. So do it without wishful thinking - it’s brutal but necessary, the sooner the better.
Many people on this forum believe that U Mass Amherst is the best school to seriously study foreign languages. Check it out.
What foreign languages? If French is one of them, there’s an annual competition with many subcategories, if you win Gold or above, it may compensate - a little - for your less than stellar GPA. Other languages probably have similar competitions, I’m writing based on our D’s experience.
And good luck!

@Theaterforme I was putzing on a defunct engine and NAU was a contender. They’ve been putting $15k annually in the 529 since I was born, but they hope I can stay around $25k/yr.

@ArtsyKidDad The foreign languages I’m currently studying: Spanish (class), ASL (EC). Hopeful I can add Arabic or Mandarin during college

Look at the Critical language flagships.

Being from Montana will definitely be a “hook” – maybe not on par with being a top-ranked athlete, but certainly high. :slight_smile:

What’s your EFC? Can your parents afford it? (Most can’t)? Do your parents own a farm, a ranch, or a business?

This doesn’t make a lot of sense, if they’ve been putting that much money in annually it should’ve grown to a large amount by now, and it needs to be used for education. $25,000 is a low budget, unfortunately.

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@Mjkacmom Thank for explaining that it needs to be used up. I’ll reinforce this with my dad.