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Old 02-27-2008, 11:45 AM   #41
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I found this site helpful for costs - College cost finder - CNNMoney.com

We are paying for our sons' college costs. The older one had a small scholarship and his responsibility was to maintain grades in order to keep the scholarship. We paid for tuition, room and board in the dorm, and books. He paid for any incidental expenses and fun money. He's not a big spender and he never called home for money. He's not a partier so he stayed out of trouble.

The younger son is now a junior in college. He's commuting from home so we pay his tuition, books, money on a food card for eating on campus and transportation costs. He drives my old 1990 Toyota Camry so we pay for maintenance, insurance and gas. He also works and volunteers at a community theater, so he reimburses us for gas not related to college.

Our parents paid for our college (undergrad) and we want to do this for our sons. We don't want them to start out in the world with large student loans and credit card debt.
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Old 02-27-2008, 11:49 AM   #42
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We sent our 2 to state schools - paid for tuition, room & board and books, everything else (meaning mostly their beer money) was on their own dime - which they earned at summer jobs. Both graduated with good grades and now have well paying jobs.
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Old 02-27-2008, 11:51 AM   #43
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I forgot to mention we did provide a car (used) beginning their 3rd year - we paid for the insurance and maintenance - they paid the gas.
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Old 02-27-2008, 11:54 AM   #44
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The four grandkids each have a 529 set up by me. We make sure the kids know what is in there so their parents are a bit more motivated to contribute than blow their tax refunds; but we are not holding our breath. The kids will have a small education nest egg from us but they will also have to find other funding. We contribute $2000/child/year.
Since you limit your contribution to $2K/yr per grandchild (so do we) why don't you use the more flexible Coverdell ESA instead of a 529b and take advantage of the greater flexibility?
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Old 02-27-2008, 12:20 PM   #45
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Good point - a recent grad from a brand-name school does have a better chance to getting recruited by megacorps.
It depends on the MegaCorp. When I worked in HR at my MegaCorp (one of the Big 3 autos), we had a defined set of schools where we actively recruited, mostly within about 1000 miles of the company. Past experience proved that recruiting at some schools (e.g., the Ivy Leagues) didn't pan out as expected -- the few who were willing to relocate for the job generally moved on within a year or two, which was a huge waste of training resources for the company.

One way of helping to identify which companies most actively recruit on a particular campus is to look at the donors to the university. If you see that a company is a major (and consistent) donor to the school -- and particularly if they designate donations for specific projects or programs, there's a pretty good chance that the firm has developed relationships with the school that usually include recruiting, co-op, internships etc. (Not always, but in my 25 years experience, it was a pretty good predictor.)
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Old 02-27-2008, 01:46 PM   #46
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2cor...have you approached your parents about funding their own 529 for your kids? If they are worth "a lot" it might be a good way to pass on assets to their grandkids. Worst case scenario that I can see is tax deferred growth if they had to take it back.
Art G,

No need. They've been contributing to 529's for their grandkids for a number of years. I have two sisters so my parents' annual contribution limit (well, the max our state allows them to deduct annually) gets split 3 ways every year into a 529 for the eldest, with the intent of rolling down leftovers to younger grandkids.

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Old 02-27-2008, 02:14 PM   #47
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Art G,

No need. They've been contributing to 529's for their grandkids for a number of years. I have two sisters so my parents' annual contribution limit (well, the max our state allows them to deduct annually) gets split 3 ways every year into a 529 for the eldest, with the intent of rolling down leftovers to younger grandkids.

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Well that's great and I don't mean to tell your parents how much they should give away, but since you mentioned maxing out to your oldest (I assume you mean $24k in '07), why not continue with the next child?
Oooops, on second thought, you can actually carry forward five years for a 529, so they can do around $120k if they wish per child.
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Old 02-27-2008, 02:26 PM   #48
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Our parents paid for our college (undergrad) and we want to do this for our sons. We don't want them to start out in the world with large student loans and credit card debt.
I shared the same view. However, we believed that it was our obligation to finance, completely, the reasonable cost of attendance, which didn't necessarily mean the cost of attendance at a highly selective private school. If our children wanted to go to one of these schools, we told them that they would have to pay the difference between the private school and the public school, which meant they would be on the hook for at least $28K per year. We told them bluntly that this would delay our own retirement plans and that they had to share in that burden by either paying us later or taking out loans to finance the difference. It also meant that they had to start thinking about potential career choices, as well.

All of our children obtained acceptances to some of the finest private schools in the nation, but only one really considered going to the extremely high cost private school. Not trying to be judgmental here, but I do think some of the choices to attend some of the elite private schools are occasionally driven by the "car decal" value of having the name of these schools prominently displayed on the parent's car, instead of being driven by the "fit" of the student into the school. Regardless of what school a child attends, I do believe he feels more connected and invested in his education when he has to freight some of the cost of attendance. Though we financed tuition, room and board, books, transportation -- the line was drawn on clothing, entertainment and other personal stuff; our children would have to use their own savings (which meant they would have to do some part-time work at some point in their college career) to cover these expenses.

Some things work for some children; some things don't work for others. I think, as a parent, you need to figure out what best works for your child and you, when it comes to figuring out how to pay for a life-time investment in education.
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Old 02-27-2008, 02:28 PM   #49
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Well that's great and I don't mean to tell your parents how much they should give away, but since you mentioned maxing out to your oldest (I assume you mean $24k in '07), why not continue with the next child?
Oooops, on second thought, you can actually carry forward five years for a 529, so they can do around $120k if they wish per child.
Sorry, I wasn't clear. Our state allows a married couple to deduct up to $8K of 529 contributions per year. So they give ~$8K/3 to each of their three kids' oldest child's 529. It's the state income tax deduction limit they are limiting themselves to, not the annual federal gift tax exclusion amount.

The problem with them giving more is that they might need the money. They're not sure how long they're going to live and whether or not either of them will get an illness requiring a great deal of expense. Their personality is such that they want to be responsible and pay for their own bills without "Indian giving" from their grandkids' 529 funds.

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Old 02-27-2008, 02:42 PM   #50
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OK, I never knew there was a state income tax deduction limit anywhere, I'm in a state without state income tax.
You're very fortunate to have parents willing to help.
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Old 02-27-2008, 02:56 PM   #51
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I am 35 yo, with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from a top 10 ME program (according to my school anyway). Kettering U (formerly GMI). I am not sure if you are looking for tuition numbers, other costs (board, food, beer) or how to make money in college.

My expenses looked like this in college:

Tuition ran about 10k in year 1 and I was paying about 15k in year 5. I think tuition now runs in the 25k for same program. Total 5 year bill is 120k on web site, I think, for current students. My bill was 60k of debt (10 years ago) for 7 years of school (year 5-6 was 75% co-op, year 7 was 9 months long, all on co-op too). My last semester and failing one class cost me a fortune (8k in debt, plus lost wages for 21 months of full time work).

Room and board was included in 10k for year 1, I think. Because all freshman lived on campus in dorms. In years 2-5 I lived off campus at Fiji house. That bill was around $1500/semester- that bill is the same now because the fraternity costs are fixed (house is paid for) more or less. Year 1 might have been $1300 and year 5 might have been $1500. The change in payment was probably do more to lower enrollment (the senior class ahead of me had 10 members). Alumni donations do subsidize this.

I had a workstudy job I worked at $5/hour during semesters (12 weeks long) and that got me enough for weekend food (maybe $60 every two weeks). Fiji had lunch and dinner covered 5 days per week, and I would bring enough oatmeal or similar for breakfast food when semester started. Our steward also bought minimal breakfast food for those of us up early enough to eat breakfast.

My parents paid for books which was around $400/semester. Some semesters I sold them back, some books I still have. First few years on the job the drafting book came in handy.

The kicker for me was GMI required co-oping, and that paid me money. My highest expenses were during co-op terms to keep car running and pay rent and food. I made on average 15k per year co-oping, so if I could have kept finances on work term to a minimum (I didn't), tuition would have been zero. In addition my first job out of school was secured well before I graduated (I earned a full time wage 9 months before graduating).

I did manage to save enough each co-op to pay house bill in full.

Our school had plenty of programs for social (something every weekend). If Freshman were not local, the school could entertain a little bit. In my case the house bill for fraternity covered most social costs. My freshman and sophomore year that funded a party we would throw, and we also attended the parties other houses threw- so basically one house on Friday, another house on Saturday, different house the next Friday, different one the next Saturday, then maybe ours was the 3rd Friday or something. I don't think that is allowed anymore.

HTH
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Old 02-27-2008, 03:04 PM   #52
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jIM, What are your thoughts on Co-op'ing? My daughters school highly recommends it for their engineering students. Would you say it was worthwhile, or in retrospect, would it have been better to get out of school faster?
Also, what's your outlook for the future of mechanical engineers? In your opinion, do you think a college freshmen will have any problem finding work in the field in four or five years, or is the market getting saturated ala computer programmers?
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Old 02-27-2008, 03:31 PM   #53
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I shared the same view. However, we believed that it was our obligation to finance, completely, the reasonable cost of attendance, which didn't necessarily mean the cost of attendance at a highly selective private school.
Yes, same with us. Luckily, both sons chose public colleges, so it worked out.

For son #1 tuition plus room and board was about $13,000 the first year and by the 4th year was more like $16,000. For son #2 the tuition has been $8300 for a full year. Even with his on campus food costs, books and car expenses, it's still much less than if he lived on campus.

My husband and I both felt that living away at college was a good portion of the experience and we encouraged him to live on campus. He tried it his first year and could not tolerate the assinine, juvenile behavior of the drunks and druggies. He is not a drinker or drugger and he hated living in that environment. So he transferred to another state university that's close enough so that he could commute.
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Old 02-27-2008, 03:54 PM   #54
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I am simply amazed at how many college students reported here live on-campus in dorms. It seems like most kids here are engineer types (like their parents)

I am just finishing paying most college costs for my 2 sons. One lived in St. Paul and the other Seattle. DS#1 spent 2 years in dorms (mandatory); DS#2 spent 1 year in dorm. They both have liberal arts degrees (aka pre-Starbucks barista degrees).

On average, they have spent about $1,000.00 per month on all living expenses (rent, food, utilities, clothes) - and neither were BIG partiers. This did not include travel costs to and from our home. Neither kid had a car on campus either.
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Old 02-27-2008, 04:10 PM   #55
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Just curious what the comment about kids living in dorms means. Are you surprised they lived in dorms as long as they did, or that they didn't live there so long? I'm wondering what to expect out of my daughter. Most of the schools she is looking at require at least the first year in a dorm. Not sure what she'll do after that. I doubt she is either.
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Old 02-27-2008, 04:15 PM   #56
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Granted, this was 10-15 years ago.... in-state public school, costs were ~$2,500 a semester for classes + books. Lived off-campus at home.

They started a flat-rate tuition the semester after I left. My wife, a fellow alum, used a combination of correspondence courses and other tricks to load up on 32 credit hours her last semester (the cap was supposed to be 24).

She lived on-campus for, I think, another $3,000 a semester.
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Old 02-27-2008, 04:28 PM   #57
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It's hard to estimate, since you don't know how much financial aid you'll get.
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Old 02-27-2008, 04:31 PM   #58
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I wondered what the on-campus comment meant also, but Im thinking if its a reference to it being cheaper to live off campus, I generally agree but depends greatly on the kid, the school, and the local housing market. All the students we know were very highly motivated to live on-campus as part of the college experience, but living in a dorm wears thin after a year or two. Many schools do not have adequate housing for all students and usually give priority to underclassmen. When looking at off-campus housing young men generally are not as picky about thier housing as young women. I think most of the schools we looked at required on-campus first year unless you lived in a very nearby zip code. Another big variable is quality of the food on-campus. We had to buy a meal plan, but I honestly believe DD lives on cold cereal and most of the meal expense is waste. Some the meal plans are outrageously priced. Anyway same answer as always.....'it depends and varies widely from one situation to another".
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Old 02-27-2008, 04:33 PM   #59
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Just my experience, but I think living on-campus in dorms is more expensive, and students have less control over their experiences (roommates, cafeteria food, etc.) But, on the other hand living off campus has its hassles too (subletting, utility payments, etc.)

Plus many large universities now have security staff (even campus police) that wander dorm halls and hand out underage drinking violations to students. (I am not stating if I think this is good or bad). Under age minors violations can certainly add to the cost of college (and of course this can happen if the student lives off campus as well)
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Old 02-27-2008, 04:37 PM   #60
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I just checked... for an in-state student living on campus they would pay $14,000 a year. A little over $7k for room + board. A little under for tuition. Plus another $600/yr in books.

An in-state student with a GPA of 3.5 or above and ACT /SAT of 33/1460 can expect at least $3,500 in merit scholarships a year.

edit: And, since we briefly owned a rental off-campus... most rentals around there are houses and run about $300/room/month with standard term being 12-mo lease (students often stay there over the summer if they have off-campus jobs already). so, off-campus can be much cheaper but you'd want at least 3 people you could stand sharing a house with.
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