Talk of the Nation on "The Price of College"

<p>Heard just a snippet of this program last night, but that bit was a doozy. Young woman calls in, says that she is about to start Yale. She applied to 14 colleges. Among her acceptances, she got into one school with free tuition, and was offered a free ride at UVA, which she initially accepted. Then she got to thinking about where she wanted to go, and decided that she truly would be happiest at Yale. The program's host said that was going to be around $200k total cost, right? and the young woman agreed. She said that her parents were taking out loans on their HELOC to cover the cost, and that she felt badly because not only were her parents making sacrifices so she could attend Yale, but that it might also impact her younger brother's college choices (he's a high school freshman). However, her parents (who attended IIRC Harvard and Cornell on scholarship) felt strongly that you get one shot at a great education.</p>

<p>I waited for the segment to finish before pointing out to the spouse that no one had mentioned anything about Yale's financial aid initiatives slashing the COA, which told you something about the young woman's family income. Assuming that the young woman had her story straight, this means that ivy-alum parents, hoping for the same for their children, with a substantial family income, not only did not save for their children to also attend ivys, but are now imperiling their younger child's ability to attend college in order to send their older child to an Ivy. On the other hand, maybe the young woman got some facts wrong. Let's hope that's what's going on.</p>

<p>The</a> Price Of College : NPR</p>

<p>She did say that her family did not qualify for financial aid, which probably means that they make at least $200k. The other school where she got full tuition was Vanderbilt. It seems like her family may not have saved anything for college. In that situation, I would have recommended Vandy or UVa. Although Vandy would have been more expensive, it probably would have been doable on her family's income. Of course, we don't know how long they've had their income- it could be 3 years or it could be 15 years. It seems like a bad decision since they don't know how they'll pay for the younger kid. What will they tell him? Your sister went to Yale but you have to start at community college or take out huge loans because we've tapped out the HELOC and we don't have any more money? Hopefully there's more to the story than what we heard.</p>

<p>I heard this program and she sounded so hipocritical when she said that she feels bad about her family sacrifices. It makes no sense to me, I did not believe her, if she really felt bad, than she would have gone to UVA that offered free ride. My D. limited her choices despite graduating at the top of her class and I am proud of her for showing maturity and honesty in addition to working very hard to achieve her goals.</p>

<p><a href="%5Burl=%5D#1%5B/url%5D">quote</a> ...She said that her parents were taking out loans on their HELOC to cover the cost, and that she felt badly because not only were her parents making sacrifices so she could attend Yale, but that it might also impact her younger brother's college choices<a href="he's%20a%20high%20school%20freshman">/b</a>. However, her parents (who attended IIRC **Harvard and Cornell on scholarship) felt strongly that you get one shot at a great education...


<p>Knowledge (even from an Ivy) doesn't foretell wisdom.</p>

<p>Sounds like a classic case of book-smart parents without a lick of common sense.</p>

<p>We could become that family next year.</p>

<p>Income < $200k, but likely still not eligible for aid.<br>
(Despite the hoopla about new finaid initiatives at Yale and Harvard, not every family with income below $200,000 will qualify for aid. I know I was disappointed when I did a test run on the calculator at Yale. The result was EFC > COA.)</p>

<p>We have saved, but we haven't "saved for college." It might be less painful to see the savings go if they had been designated for college. OTOH, we've retained flexibility, and I've never wanted the kids to think they are entitled to our savings. Are we being penalized for saving? Nah. We have choices.</p>

<p>It took me a while to figure out what "HELOC" is (home equity line of credit, right?). Sometimes it is not an act of desparation. Funding college takes some stubby pencil work-- student contribution, liquidate assets, suspend 401k contributions, HELOC, etc. </p>

<p>"One shot at a great education"-- it's too bad that so many people think a great education means only Ivy League. Many others find that offensive. We might be more sympathetic if the parents had said "one shot at a [undergrad] Yale experience." Whether it is worth a lot of extra money is debatable and has been debated many times on CC. The TOTN caller's family reached their own conclusions. (I wouldn't be surprised if they read, or even participated in, some of the CC debates before they made their choice.)</p>

<p>One thing that I forgot to mention: the young woman wanted to go to Y instead of UVa because Yale has her intended major (environmental studies, I believe), and UVa didn't. </p>

<p>mom58, I'm paraphrasing from the show, which was quoting the young woman quoting her parents. For the funding, the young woman didn't give the impression that she herself was taking on any of the burden. She didn't mention taking out loans, or working summers, etc etc. Maybe she was, and just didn't mention it, but it didn't sound like a shared burden between parents and child. It may be that the family had done some general saving as opposed to specific 'for college' saving, but that wasn't the general impression.</p>

<p>Give me a break. We just finished paying for 4 years at U. Chicago with no financial aid grants - just above the cutoff at most places, based on the formulas at the time. (history note, 4 years ago, few people over 120K per year got any need based aid anywhere. We live in high cost parts of the country, Boston and now DC. </p>

<p>We did not borrow a penny to send her through, and did not have a lot of savings. How did we do it? We gave up a lot (but not 401K contritubutions): one car (I bike, walk and bus to work. Not convenient but far cheaper), no lunches out at work, no vacations other than driving to family, no gym membership, no get the idea. Funny thing is we've gotten used to living frugally, and don't miss the excess spending. Instead, now that she's graduated, we have a lot more freedom and no debt to worry about.</p>

<p>I bet the person in the story has her own car, along with her parents' Lexus, beemer or whatever, etc.etc.</p>

<p>You really need to spend $200k for environmental studies?? Nuts.</p>

<p>Most kids would give their eye teeth to attend UVa. And, for free?! </p>

<p>It must be a geographic or mindset difference; I can't imagine coming to the same conclusion this family did. I've heard that conversations on the east coast quickly home in on where people attended school. OTOH, I've had a number of conversations with other parents in my midwestern community about the schools we all attended. We all agree that after a certain point, the place one goes for undergrad just plain doesn't matter. In our social circle, we have a guy who went to a second-rate State U. who is a CEO of a multi-million dollar international corporation. And, we know a good number of people with platinum educations who are just average joes.</p>

<p>I feel kind of bad judging these people, but the elitism their behavior exhibits is nauseating.</p>

<p>If the parents own their home free and clear, or their mortgage is minimal, a $200K heloc is not a tremendous burden for a family making $200k annually.</p>

<p>So she'll have a little less to inherit. Big deal. What were her parents going to spend the money on anyway? </p>

<p>As to whether she'll get a better education as a result? I sincerely doubt it. But she will THINK she did (and will need to think that in order to protect her self-esteem.) Likely, she'll pay it forward.</p>

<p>The thing that really got to me most of all was that it sounded as if the younger brother might not get the same opportunities as his older sister. Now, it may be that there's more to the story, that there might be other resources available for him. Or maybe the parents were just telling their daughter that they might not have money for kid 2 to go wherever as a way to try to encourage the daughter to stay with the free ride. But if the situation really was "well, we can tap the HELOC to pay for Yale for you, but we might not be able to do that for the other kid", that sounds rather unfair.</p>