Equifax

Finance Blog

Get a College Education You Can Afford

Written by Liz Weston on June 27, 2011 in Credit  |   No comments

Get a College Education You Can Afford Liz Weston, Excerpt from The 10 Commandments of Money The time to discuss college expenses is not when your child is holding an acceptance letter from her “dream” school—the one that will consign you both to a lifetime…

Get a College Education You Can Afford

The time to discuss college expenses is not when your child is holding an acceptance letter from her “dream” school—the one that will consign you both to a lifetime of loan payments. It’s far better to have these discussions in advance, and to talk about alternatives, than to have your child set her heart on a school, get accepted and then hear, “I’m sorry, we can’t afford that.” (But saying no, even at the last minute, is certainly preferably to miring yourself and your child in un-payable debt.)

Ideally, you’ll start talking about what you can afford to pay for school before she starts her search for schools. By her sophomore year in high school, you should have a fairly good idea of your resources as well as her talents and strengths and can begin looking for the right college match that will give her a good education without sinking you both financially.
You can get some idea of how much you’ll be pay for a college education, and how much financial aid you’re likely to get, by using FinAid.org’s Expected Family Contribution calculator. What you’re actually offered, however, will depend on the school, its resources and how much they want your child.
Many elite schools, for example, have committed to eliminating or limiting loans in student aid packages for low- and middle-income students. Some have eliminated or capped tuition costs as well. So it’s entirely possible that a public school education could wind up costing more than what you would pay to have your child attend an elite private school.
The aid your child gets also can depend on what he brings to the table. If he’s a talented soccer player and the school needs competitive players, he’s likely to get a more attractive package than if the school doesn’t have a team at all. Unfortunately, it’s tough to know in advance what a school will offer, and that makes managing expectations difficult. But your child needs to understand that while you’ll do the best you can, some colleges may be out of reach.
You may want to discuss some alternatives for making college affordable. Such as:
  • Starting with a two-year school. Many students save money by getting requirements out of the way at an inexpensive junior or community college, than transferring to a four-year school.
  • Helping pay their own way. Working part-time during the school year and full-time during the summer can allow a student to pay much of her own living expenses.
  • Rushing through in three years. Some schools offer the option of getting a bachelor’s degree in three years instead of four. This option typically doesn’t save much tuition, since students typically attend summer sessions to pack in the needed credits, but it does save on living costs. Therefore, it could be a good choice for a motivated student, particularly one who wants to get on to graduate school.

Adapted from The 10 Commandments of Money by Liz Weston


Liz Weston is the most-read personal finance columnist on the Internet, according to Nielsen//NetRatings. She’s an award-winning, nationally-syndicated personal finance columnist who can make the most complex money topics understandable to the average reader.

The New York Times called her latest book, “The 10 Commandments of Money: Survive and Thrive in the New Economy,” a “wonderful basic personal finance book…[with] enough counterintuitive ideas to keep even people who know a bit about personal finance reading further.” Her earlier book, “Your Credit Score: Your Money and What’s at Stake; How to Improve the 3-Digit Number that Shapes Your Financial Future,” is a national best-seller and was recently published in a third edition.

Liz’s columns run twice a week on MSN Money while her question-and-answer column “Money Talk” appears in newspapers throughout the country, including the Los Angeles Times, the Palm Beach Post, the Portland Oregonian, Stars & Stripes and others.
She also writes a money column, “My Two Cents,” for AARP the Magazine, the largest-circulation magazine in the world with 22 million subscribers.

No comments yet


Leave a Comment


Name :


Commenting guidelines

We welcome your interest and participation on this forum, but be aware that comments will be published at Equifax's sole discretion. Please don't use this blog to submit questions or concerns about your Equifax credit report or raise customer service issues. Instead, you should contact Equifax directly for all such matters and any attempts to do so in this forum will be promptly re-directed.

Some other factors to consider when commenting:
  1. Registration and privacy. While no registration is required to visit our forum, participants wishing to post a message must register by creating an account. All personal information provided by forum members incident to registration is governed by our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.
  2. All comments are anonymous. We'll delete your name, e-mail address, and any other identifying information, including details about your investments.
  3. We can't post or respond to every comment - As much as we'd like to, we can't post every comment, nor can we guarantee that we will respond to each individual message. All questions or comments about your Equifax credit report or similar customer service issues should be handled by contacting Equifax directly.
  4. Don't offer specific legal, tax or financial advice. All of the materials on this Site are for information, education, and noncommercial purposes only and this forum is not intended as a means of expressing views or ideas regarding any specific legal, tax, or investment advice. While offering general rules of thumb is both permitted and encouraged, recommending specific ideas or strategies regarding investments, taxes, and related matters is prohibited.
  5. Credit Repair. This blog is not intended as a venue for the discussion or exchange of ideas regarding credit repair or other strategies intended to assist visitors and community members improve or otherwise modify their credit histories, ratings or scores.
  6. Stay on topic. Your comment should be concise and pertain to the specific post in question.
  7. Be respectful of the community. The use of profanity, offensive language, spam, and personal attacks will not be tolerated and egregious or repeat offenders will be banned from future participation. We encourage disagreement and healthy debate, but please refrain from personal attacks on our WordPresss and contributors.
  8. Finally: Participation in this forum may be terminated by Equifax immediately and without notice for failure to comply with any guidelines or Terms of Use. As such, you should familiarize yourself with all pertinent requirements prior to submitting any response through the blog or otherwise. All opinions expressed in this forum are solely those of the individual submitting the comment, and don't necessarily represent the views of Equifax or its management.

Equifax maintains this interactive forum for education and information purposes in order to allow individuals to share their relevant knowledge and opinions with other members and visitors. We encourage you to participate in discussions about personal finance issues and other topics of interest to this community, but please read our commenting guidelines first. Equifax reserves the right to monitor postings to the forum and comments will be published at our discretion. Do you have questions or comments about your Equifax credit report or customer-service issues regarding an Equifax product? If so, please contact Equifax directly. All opinions and information expressed or shared in blog comments are solely those of the person submitting the comments, and don't necessarily represent the views of Equifax or its management.


Credit Archive

Stay Informed Sign up for our FREE Equifax email Newsletter