College selection and cost is something that weighs heavy on my mind. When I was at the age to go to university I lived in a country where (unless you wanted to go to a private university) the government paid for tuition and most of us lived at home with mom and dad. I personally did not, so I worked full time while finishing my Bachelors, to afford rent and food. Today I am facing a completely different world when it comes to my son. As he begins his last year of high school I am left wondering if he wants to go to college. Asking him is pointless, he changes his mind every week. If he does though, how will I finance it? Or should I? My husband has a straight view on this matter, “we paid for the first 18 years, and college is his financial burden.” But I am not sure I agree.
I recently stumbled upon this awesome podcast called VoiceAmerica that talks about all aspects of college considerations, including applications, selection process and more importantly finance considerations.
My favorite two episodes are from March this year. One talks about financing options for all 4 years, the other about tax breaks and credits. (If you want to listen to the finance section of the podcasts only, fast forward to the 40th minute).
A quick snapshot of both:
Savings and 529 accounts
Cash flow (out of pocket)
Financing and loans
State Level (varies by state):
Tuition fee deduction
Lifetime learning credit
American Opportunity Credit
This blog post is a great roll up on all these topics.
BUT… what if you don’t have any savings? Should I really break the bank and use my regular savings for my kid’s tuition? Should I take out personal loans to finance his education he might not even want to do? I am having a hard time justifying all these expenses mainly because he does not seem to care one way or another. I am dreading the experience many before me have made when their children have started college 3 or 4 times all in different subject and may never finish any of them.
I know the answer can only be found internally in our own family and working with our tax advisor… But I am curious to hear what others are doing or not doing when it comes to funding further education for themselves or their children? How do you overcome the ambiguity of it being a good or bad investment in your child's future?