Do not be fooled into thinking that college is going away. Do not be mislead that it will be cheaper because the families have suffered financially over the past several months. Do not think that eliminating SAT scores and relaxed admittance equals lower cost. Do not think online and on campus can be duplicated at home on-line and that you will save money because of the digital aspect. Be certain that change is happening, and it requires a savvy parent and student game plan to navigate these new waters.
I have been in this college world for over a decade and have been around the founding fathers of the college planning industry for several years. I have been engaged in communication with multiple university current and past executives. I have been solving how to pay for college and have helped families save over $10 million in out of pocket cost and much more in reduced college debt for those families. One thing I have found to be true: Every family needs a custom Pay-for-College Strategy and a 529 plan or scholarship service will not solve todays college problem.
If you are not aware, there are over 700 colleges listed on the NACAC site for being under enrolled. There are states that have reduced funding to give to the public institutions to help families pay for college. There are constant fixed costs at universities and having a professor split time with smaller class sizes, blending a virtual experience might actually be more expensive for the university. Cost might not do down like we would like to think.
What kind of solutions are there now, most families were struggling to pay for college and manage the family college debt 6 moths ago, let alone after this pandemic? It can happen. I need to set the table properly, so we have realistic expectations. Your children need to do something after high school, correct? There will almost always be a cost to that next step, right? Finally, most families were not prepared to pay for it without some level of college debt, right? If we start with the premise that there will be some family debt to get from high school to successful career, we are on the right track. My job is to get you the right information to help reduce that amount of debt and then show you how to reduce the time that your family is in the college debt cycle so you can celebrate the achievement of the next step for your children becoming successful, productive, members of society defined by their education not victimized by the debt they carry. For mom and dad, it is important to know that this is a FAMILY debt issue- not just a student debt issue. Parents can acquire more debt for an undergrad degree than any one student. If you have more than one child, the number can grow pretty fast. This is not meant to be scary, but to have realistic expectations.
What can the average family do now that we are here? There are several ways to help reduce the cost of college.
First, you should have a plan that involves the parents and the student to make sure everyone is doing their part. This means choosing a university that is the right fit and has a desire to have your child as a student. This will help reduce the time you are in the expensive college years and help provide a game plan for a 4-4.5-year experience.
Second, each family should have a micro-scholarship program they are actively using. I have helped families acquire over $140,000 in guaranteed scholarships in under 3 hours. These are income agnostic programs that reward activities that attract the right student for the university.
Third, you should have a family Pay-for-College plan that shows you what to expect from a gifting award from each university you want to attend, how to manage cash flow during the college years, how to take advantage of multiple children in college at the same time, and how much debt you can afford with out ruining your future lifestyle or retirement picture. There is peace of mind knowing the exact date you are out of all the family college debt, normally in half the time it traditionally takes.
If this seems daunting, and for most of us it is, be at ease. Most families are struggling with this and do not have a good solution to help solve the real issue- how do you pay for it. Getting into college is not the issue for most families, paying for it is. We have been making this our mission for a long time and want to make sure that there are resources out there to help families create a successful launch for their children without anchoring the family in debt. I do not think most families need to pay for a get into college plan, or pay for FAFSA help, or pay for Scholarship services. Some do need these and those who de will reap the rewards, however the majority are better off using their money to reduce debt during college.