The New Scary “C” Word

No… it is not Cancer or COVID, nor is it life threatening at all.  It is college.  It is more of a financial threat and achievement threat than anything else.  I have been working in the college world for almost 2 decades and have seen more families in panic over the expectations of how to pay for college than almost anything else.

Think about what a family has gone through in the past 2 years everything has changed, yet a solution for “how to pay for college” has not materialized.  We have seen a lot of talk about stimulus this and stimulus that- changes to FAFSA, and entrance guidelines for getting into college and so much more.  However, what has not materialized is any substance to set families at ease.  I hear more families talk about loan forgiveness and free college than I have ever heard of.  The election is over, and we still do not have a firm number for what will be forgiven- after all the promising talk during the last election cycle. I love the concept of “It is difficult to get to the Right solution when you start at the wrong premise.”

Let us start at the beginning.  To do this I have 3 questions for you:

1: DO you know that your children will be doing something after High School?

2: DO you know if there is a cost to that next step?

3: DO you know how to pay for it? (For all your children, not just the next one?)

Finally, the proper starting point should be, “What is the RIGHT NEXT STEP for my child?” not who will pay for it because I cannot afford it.  If you are like most families, we come across you answered Yes, Yes and NO.  This is a family issue that should be solved prior to getting into college. This is not a political issue that we should be hoping the government solves.  Let me be very curt- the government is the casino owner- they do not put programs in place to lose, however, the past few decades would create a fun conversation to challenge this.  From a college standpoint they have a huge revenue source in Parent Loans and Student Loans that are secure and not forgivable even in a bankruptcy.  They need this on there books and will use it as a pollical football.  I like to say- if it (college debt forgiveness) happens it is icing on the cake but let us not make that our #1 plan.  You and your family are on the hook for all the debt that you sign up for.  We should just plan to pay for it and know what we can handle with out blowing up our lives financially or “settling” for a low-cost college when a better FIT school is achieved.

College is the new scary “C” word for anyone with precollege children.  It is a problem for over 40 million current loan holders with over $1.6 trillion in total college debt and it is not going to change unless we have a better plan to help families navigate this time in their lives.  College should not be a mountain blocking our view of retirement it should be a speed bump along the way. 

The traditional world focuses on saving your way through the college years, i.e., 529 plans.  We have noticed that most families lack enough annual resources to save enough for the full funding process for all their children.  Again, the premise is not correct.  Who says we should be able to pay for college on our own?  There are about 10 different areas that most families can take advantage of to help pay for college, most only use 3-4: scholarships, cash, parent loans, and student loans.  Sounds like the focus is on what can the family pay and be responsible for.  We should use other people’s money first and help put a strategy in place for each family finding the colleges and universities that are the best fit for your children and allow them to help pay for college.  FAFSA is a crazy formula that is counter intuitive for traditional thinking, it is almost opposite the way most families do tax planning with the IRS rules, which is why most families who feel like they should receive some financial assistances do not receive any.  They show up looking kike they have the ability top pay for college instead of looking like they need help.  It is a personal and custom strategy.   I recommend finding someone who is an expert in this area and getting a custom plan for your family.  I also hear families say things like “our friends make less than us and didn’t get any money” or “I will not have my children anchored with college debt”. 

These are normal thoughts and have contributed to the problem.  We have an interactive presentation for you to enjoy; there is 20+ minutes of content provided here, but families typically spend 8-12 minutes getting answers to their questions. 

I have seen thousand’s of families come across my path, crying and in panic, only to have real hope and a plan that shows them what they should be looking for and were they should be shopping for colleges for their children.  If you knew what your price limit was, you might be able to shop in the right place to put your children in a track of success without having to work until your 75 or eat ramen noodles till you retire.

I would also encourage you to get a book or two- “The Affordable College Plan” is an easy read that has immediate actions that you can take to start gathering other resources outside of what you can save to pay for college.   There are others but this one is easy, and I know the author 😊.

I hope that you have found some hope and found a better way to process this college timeline.  If you have questions, please feel welcome to reach out and ask.  You can visit us on social media platforms with our handle @RCAcommunity. We look forward to seeing how we can help!