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Out of pocket college costs?
Old 02-26-2008, 02:04 PM   #1
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Out of pocket college costs?

Inspired by the "Alternatives to 529 plans" thread and my oldest child turning 13, I've been looking at college costs.

I'm aware of the College Board annual report on the costs of college, and I've read that document for several years running. What I'd like help with here is knowing what the actual out of pocket costs have been for people here on the board. You are real people, so your responses will help me validate and better understand the anonymous College Board statistics.

I have three kids: 13, almost 8, and 6. I'd like to save enough in their college funds to pay for the average out of pocket costs for tuition, room & board, books, and fees for a 4 year public university. As a proxy for this, I've been using the College Board's enrollment-weighted average TRBF cost for 4 year public universities, which is $12,796 (see page 5, table 1, column 9, row 2 here).

It seems this number is too high, because it doesn't take into account grant and education tax credits. After adjusting for that, the number drops to $9,700 (page 16, figure 8d).

But if I want to let my kids choose a private university, the number more than doubles to $21,400 (page 15, figure 8b).

My undergraduate alma mater, where my oldest wants to go, has a sticker price of $41,335! The other school I look at is Stanford, where my sister went, which is $46,586!! Apparently most Stanford students get aid and most graduate with very small loans.

So if you'll indulge me, what is your number for the average annual amount of money you actually had to fork over to your child's university while they were pursuing a bachelor's degree full time at a 4 year school? I want to include tuition, room & board, books, and fees. I want to exclude any savings you got on your taxes (like the Hope and LLC credits). I also want to exclude thinks like plane tickets, pizza, beer, pocket money, etc.

Also the name of the school would be helpful as well, and whether you think private education is worth it or not would be good. I've attended two private universities and one public university; I would say the quality of the private schools was better, but not four to five times as good.

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Old 02-26-2008, 02:37 PM   #2
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Whatever your numbers, you'll probably need to figure the cost will go up 7% per year between now and the time your kids reach college.
I'd rather not state the University I am currently paying for, (I will say it is considered a fairly prestigious university for engineering in the eastern part of the U.S.), however, I'm not quite sure if you're trying to figure what it will cost you up front, or that plus any loans to be paid off later on?
I'm trying to add up mine off the top of my head, and I'm coming up with around $19k per year (she's got about a half scholarship, so about $43k per year without), of which I had set aside about $14k per year in a 529 (currently valued). However, you really need to add in for the little extras you may not be considering. She needed a particular brand of laptop right off the bat, then there were the fees if they want athletic event tickets, airline tickets a few times per year, storage fees for over the summer, mini-fridge and microwave, futon rental, bunk bed rental, laundry money, grocery money, etc....Heaven forbid if your child wants to join a fraternity or sorority.
In that $5k difference, we received a $2500 per year interest free loan (until she graduates) that I told her was her responsibility (I'd like her to be motivated to graduate sooner). Unfortunately, I didn't factor in that she's in a five year program so I'll come up short in the end while paying for my son as well.
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Old 02-26-2008, 03:40 PM   #3
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We are paying about $15,000 a year for Kent State University. This includes tuition, room and board (off campus)and books. Does not include spending - he's on his own for that!
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Old 02-26-2008, 03:46 PM   #4
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University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

I just asked this question to a friend of mine, whose child is in the middle of obtaining a 4-year degree from UNC-Chapel Hill (a public university, but highly ranked academically). She & her husband expect to pay $60,000 in total (includes room & board, tuition & fees, and books for all 4 years, plus one laptop to be used for all 4 years).

I was afraid it might be a rude question, but, thankfully, she didn't mind answering .

Charlotte
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Old 02-26-2008, 03:51 PM   #5
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College Search - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - UNC, - Cost & Financial Aid
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Old 02-26-2008, 03:57 PM   #6
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Art: Yes, I do both inflate the costs of college and the value of the investments at rates I think are reasonable (I use 6% and 10.7%, I'm sure lots could disagree with me there). I've got a spreadsheet model built up for this.

Ideally I'd like to avoid loans. But if my kid pays sticker at Harvard then loans would be nearly unavoidable.

I understand there are extras. I haven't thought much about those except to mentally earmark them as my kids' expenses if they are truly extra, and to hope they are relatively minor (as compared to tuition/room/board) if they are truly required.

I'd really just like to be in the ballpark, but it's a big ballpark ;-)

shoe and Charlotte, thanks for the data points!

2Cor521
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Old 02-26-2008, 04:07 PM   #7
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I'd say this is a pretty good site for giving you some realistic numbers...

College Search - SAT Registration - College Admissions - Scholarships

Just add in for the incidentals.
When I went to freshman initiation, the entire theme of the weekend was, "just ask your parents for money". Ticked me off actually. Anyway, if I lived close to my daughters school and actually wanted to attend football games, I'd have to figure in about an extra $20k per year. Fortunately for me, she's in marching band so she gets in for free.
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Old 02-26-2008, 04:48 PM   #8
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The university/college web sites themselves also have tuition, room/board, etc, listed. If you can't find it quickly, just search for "tuition". Every one we've looked at was easy to find.

I don't quite get the OP's question. I haven't found these college search sites to be off on their tuition listings. I first thought this was a "what does it really cost" question, including all of the personal expenses, but then the OP said to leave out beer, pizza, plane tickets, etc. So you really are dealing with very well-known numbers.

In fact, I'd be a bit worried that any info I got here that didn't match was well-intended, but incorrect. It would be easy for someone to forget about books, or that a grant or scholarship covered some costs, which would lead to inaccurate numbers. And really, getting numbers for Harvard is pretty meaningless if the kid isn't going to go there.

Now the interesting question in there was whether a private school is worth it. I asked that question on a different board, and got a wide variety of answers, ranging from:

- not at all
- matters for first job or two only
- depends on area of study, for example, having the right contacts may be a big deal if they'll get into politicals or the corporate world
- helps them get into a good masters program
- matters a lot less than where they get their masters/PhD
- do it at all costs, it stays with them forever and will pay itself back in multiples

I guess the conclusion is, "it depends"!

I'm in the waiting game to see which schools DD gets accepted into, and then where she decides to go. Her first choice, fortunately, is the top public school in the state, if she gets in.
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Old 02-26-2008, 04:57 PM   #9
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Son was out-of state at Penn State. I believe we paid between $23, 000 and $28,000 per year for tuition, room and board. Back around 2002-2005.

Daughter is out of state at Virginia Tech - we paid about $24,000 last year. It will be more this year, as she is living off-campus. Nice set-up, but off-campus is more expensive in her case.

This does not include books (running DD about $400-$600/semester, but this varies drastically by major, if they buy used, share, etc, etc.), nor does it include any of THEIR spending money. That also varies drastically - which is why it is better for you to pay the necessity and let them decide how much they want to spend of their own hard-earned money of "incidentals".
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Old 02-26-2008, 05:01 PM   #10
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Why do you feel it is your responsibility to pay for college? Since when is it that 18 to 22 YO college students cannot help pay a large part of their college tuition?

They can work while going to college, better they party instead??

They are adults at college time treat them like it.
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Old 02-26-2008, 05:11 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by newguy888 View Post
Why do you feel it is your responsibility to pay for college? Since when is it that 18 to 22 YO college students cannot help pay a large part of their college tuition?

They can work while going to college, better they party instead??

They are adults at college time treat them like it.
Responsibility is a strong word. It is my decision to pay for their college for two reasons:

1. My parents paid for mine and I have a "pay it forward" attitude, to a certain degree inculcated by them.
2. It is my belief that when my children grow up, their lifetime earning, intellectual, and social opportunities will be much greater if they graduate from college. I want this for them and if I pay for their college I believe they are likely to graduate from college and experience these benefits.

As to the partying comment, my parents paid for my college, I worked while in college, and I didn't party while in college, so those three booleans don't always line up the way you imply. Although if I had to bet, I think I have a non-worker non-partier (the 13 yo), a worker partier (the almost 8 yo), and a worker non-partier (the 6 yo).

Thanks for helping me think it through...

2Cor521
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Old 02-26-2008, 05:21 PM   #12
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Responsibility is a strong word. It is my decision to pay for their college for two reasons:

1. My parents paid for mine and I have a "pay it forward" attitude, to a certain degree inculcated by them.
2. It is my belief that when my children grow up, their lifetime earning, intellectual, and social opportunities will be much greater if they graduate from college. I want this for them and if I pay for their college I believe they are likely to graduate from college and experience these benefits.

As to the partying comment, my parents paid for my college, I worked while in college, and I didn't party while in college, so those three booleans don't always line up the way you imply. Although if I had to bet, I think I have a non-worker non-partier (the 13 yo), a worker partier (the almost 8 yo), and a worker non-partier (the 6 yo).

Thanks for helping me think it through...

2Cor521
I am not crashing your ideas here, I just listen to so many parents that say they must do this and do that and pay this and that for their older children and watch them NOT WORK even during the summer.
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Old 02-26-2008, 05:30 PM   #13
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I think earning a portion benefits most students overall...even if it is just enough to pay some incidentals. It gives them some real life experiences.
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Old 02-26-2008, 05:34 PM   #14
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I am not crashing your ideas here, I just listen to so many parents that say they must do this and do that and pay this and that for their older children and watch them NOT WORK even during the summer.
No, they'll be working during the summer and possibly during the school year as well.

Also swirling around in my head is some sort of policy that they must be getting decent grades and/or progressing towards a degree in order for me to keep paying for things.

2Cor521
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Old 02-26-2008, 05:43 PM   #15
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.

Also swirling around in my head is some sort of policy that they must be getting decent grades and/or progressing towards a degree in order for me to keep paying for things.

2Cor521

I had that policy. It was I'll pay for four years and only if you pass . Partying can be done on your own dime. I paid about $12,000 a year in 1990 and 1995 at M.I.T and The U of Mass. after schlorships. It was money well spent .
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Old 02-26-2008, 06:13 PM   #16
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My 2007/2008 out of pocket is $19,988 (including the state credit; and, tax breaks, none actually) for Engineering at a public school (Univ of Colorado) for tuition, books, fees, and room and board. The school health plan ($1700/year), the kids spending money (about $2500), and a vehicle costs (?) would be extra if I needed to pay for those items. We do not get Financial Aide. It went up 14% last year alone so I do not know what inflation rate to use. 5% may be not be enough.

This is for In-state Tuition
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Old 02-26-2008, 07:09 PM   #17
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. As a proxy for this, I've been using the College Board's enrollment-weighted average TRBF cost for 4 year public universities, which is $12,796 (see page 5, table 1, column 9, row 2 here).

It seems this number is too high, because it doesn't take into account grant and education tax credits. After adjusting for that, the number drops to $9,700 (page 16, figure 8d).

But if I want to let my kids choose a private university, the number more than doubles to $21,400 (page 15, figure 8b).


2Cor521

I keep wondering where those $9-13k numbers come from. Our bill for public out-of-state is $22-25K.
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Old 02-26-2008, 07:18 PM   #18
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The total loan balance after completing my undergraduate and law degrees (3 years in each) was about $82,000. Both degrees came from an in-state public institution. I worked to pay my way through a little bit, and received a couple of very small scholarships. If I had taken 5 years to complete undergrad (which is becoming more typical at colleges) and had to finance closer to 100% of the cost, I imagine my total outstanding loans would be $110,000-$140,000 at the same public institution. That's still living on a shoestring budget. Oh yeah, this was between 1999-2005.

Sorry I don't have a very good break down for the undergrad costs vs the graduate costs. My sense is about 70/30 or 80/20 (graduate/undergrad). Now, it doesn't make much difference and I just make one monthly payment to the same lender . . .
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Old 02-26-2008, 07:20 PM   #19
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BUT I must add that I was able to consolidate that $82,000 at 1.625%, fixed for 30 years. It's the one bill that I can feel (relatively) good about paying each month!
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Old 02-26-2008, 08:04 PM   #20
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$27460 out of state tuition and fees for engineering at University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. About $10k room and board. Transportation is another big expense for us. Flying for Thanksgiving and spring break are particularly expensive. I've been budgeting about $50k/year for college, inflated starting a few years ago.

Dan
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