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.)
- 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.
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Adapted from The 10 Commandments of Money by Liz Weston
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.