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Old 10-11-2016, 06:14 PM   #41
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OP here. First off, thanks for all the great replies. Your support means a lot as this truly is a difficult decision for both DD and our family.

Being that I've been ER'd for her HS career, I've pushed her to perform up to her potential since she started. (One of the many benefits of being a SAHD with an engineering degree). She entered senior year with a 3.9 GPA and got a 720 on reading/writing part of the SAT. Math was not quite that good, but respectable and should get her accepted to some second tier privates such as Wellesley, Smith, Reed, etc. Of course, this performance makes it all the more difficult to tell her that options are limited to in-state university.

I'm certainly not convinced that the education is better at a high priced private college, but I do believe her personality makeup is better suited to a smaller college with more like minded students. They're simply a better fit and I believe that is critical to her success.

I originally thought we would apply to 5 colleges max, but we're knee deep in the application process and the number is up to 11.

4 in-state publics (19K-27K)
1 out-of-state public (47K)
6 privates (55K-67K)

These are full price costs and we'll wait and see where the merit money comes in at. From what I'm hearing, she can expect $4-6K at publics and up to $22K of merit at some of the privates. That's going to leave us a bit short, but we'll have to wait and see. Hopefully, there's a full-tuition scholarship in there somewhere. Fingers crossed.

Hope this helps explain a little better why the guilt and regret.
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Old 10-11-2016, 06:19 PM   #42
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I think your DD needs to think more practically about what comes after college before deciding where to go. As they say in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People... begin with the end in mind. My first thought when a high school senior was a profession that certainly would have been interesting but after researching jobs and salaries I concluded would not allow me to live as I wanted... so I ended up choosing a more practical profession and of course, the colleges that I planned to attend changed as a result. Dear SIL scrimped to put our niece through 4 years of college with a degree in drama... she now works in retail that is a small upgrade from her prior job painting houses. A friend got a degree in art and works for the state in a clerical job. In both cases, pretty much a waste of money.

If your DD is artistic, there are practical professions for those who are so minded... BFF's daughter is an interior designer and has a great job and makes good money.... another niece works in architectural design and seems to enjoy her job and makes good money. I also understand that the artsy side of video game design is a hot profession.

On tuition... DD was offered a "scholarship"... which was nothing more than an annual discount on tuition because the school wanted her. I don't recall exactly but it was pretty significant.. about 20% off the first year and less after that as the scholarship amount was fixed but tuition increased annually... but still better than paying full sticker price.

I budgeted $100k ($25k a year) for DS... but he has yet to take advantage of it... I hope that someday soon he does.
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Old 10-11-2016, 09:20 PM   #43
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I originally thought we would apply to 5 colleges max, but we're knee deep in the application process and the number is up to 11.
Yikes. I had the opposite problem with DS. I think he should consider more schools, but he's pretty much made up his mind. Total of 3 schools, 2 in-state public (23k/26k) and 1 Canadian (36k USD - at current exchange rate).

We're different than many on this board, because we've paid for private school for both of our kids. We never sent them to expensive private schools, but mid-priced private schools. Right now they both attend a Catholic high school. We didn't do this to eventually send them to an Ivy league school, but to make sure that they are well prepared for college and life afterwards. I feel fortunate that we had this option (many don't) and don't regret any of the money we spent. So far so good.

I mention this because we have spent a lot of money on our kid's education, but we don't have a strong belief that this means they need to go to an expensive university when the in-state option is just as good. DS completely gets it (and he's a 3.8 student taking mostly AP/honor classes).

One of his options - his sure thing - is a 2nd tier in-state university where he'll know a lot of people. The average GPA for admission is around 3.5 with about 15k students. He would be more than happy to go there. As a side note, this school has *much* smaller class sizes compared to his other choices and classes are taught by Professors, not grad students (the undergrad population is 98% of the school, so not many grad students to choose from). Not at all a bad option. If you're worried that your DD would like a smaller environment, maybe there are universities in your state that match this profile?

As for the major, we've also been clear with our kids that they need to select a major that will lead to employment. If they want to study art/music, then they can select it as a minor or do a double-major - unless they have a plan they can sell us (teaching degree, etc). DW has many co-workers that went back to school to get their nursing degree after graduating with a less-employable major. It's great that kids want to explore their interests, but they should realize that's a secondary goal. The primary goal is to learn something useful in order to be successful in life. Of course, IMO.
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Old 10-11-2016, 10:16 PM   #44
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My niece pressed really hard to study art as it was her passion. Her parents relented. She got a fantastic Masters degree in Europe that even included a year in the Sorbonne.

At the end of it she couldn't find a job in art and is now working for a tech company in marketing. She literally looked at her parents and said "why did you let me study art?"


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Old 10-12-2016, 06:25 AM   #45
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I know this can be a confrontational topic so I reluctantly write it. It seems everyone thinks that their little snowflake needs the best education from the best high dollar university with the best professors money can buy. I don't know any statistics but from what I see of the college graduates that I know is that most of them get a degree of some specialty type then just take whatever job that comes their way. Most of these jobs are something that wouldn't require a college education anyway. As a society we have all gravitated towards the misconception that there is no possible way to be successful unless you obtain a degree. The truth is that we all cant be engineers, doctors and lawyers and such. Someone has to do the other jobs too.

I would sit down and discuss your daughters life plans first before deciding on a college. First I would discuss if she has thought about getting married and having kids. It wouldn't make much sense, but I have seen it happen many times where the girl gets a big, expensive college education then immediately gets married then has a number of kids just to find out it is to difficult to work while raising kids and decides to put her job search/employment on hold and work evenings as a store clerk or something. Usually this last until the kids are in their later years in HS. By this time the big expensive degree is outdated and she ends up taking any job she can find or going full time as the store clerk. Secondly I would find out where she wants to live. There isn't much point to getting an art degree then living in a small midwest country town or a marine biology degree and living in Tucson.

I honestly don't even know what a degree in art would do for her. Would it allow her to teach art? Or would it allow her to appraise art, work in an art store, draw pictures, paint pictures I really don't know. Maybe if she really likes art she should get whatever job she can in the art industry to see if that's what she really wants to do first.

perhaps you could put together some numbers and show her how much the education will cost you/her. Include everything that pertains such as the tuition, books, housing, food and whatever other expense there may be. If she decides on the 60k a year school that number could easily approach $350,000. At that point you two can put the earnings numbers to it and see how long she will have to work to get a ROI. Or maybe you could take a fraction of that money and buy or start up an art store where she could sell nice pictures or something.
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Old 10-12-2016, 07:12 AM   #46
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I would sit down and discuss your daughters life plans first before deciding on a college. First I would discuss if she has thought about getting married and having kids. It wouldn't make much sense, but I have seen it happen many times where the girl gets a big, expensive college education then immediately gets married then has a number of kids just to find out it is to difficult to work while raising kids and decides to put her job search/employment on hold and work evenings as a store clerk or something. Usually this last until the kids are in their later years in HS. By this time the big expensive degree is outdated and she ends up taking any job she can find or going full time as the store clerk. Secondly I would find out where she wants to live. There isn't much point to getting an art degree then living in a small midwest country town or a marine biology degree and living in Tucson.


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Wow. The 1950's called; they want to know when you are coming home.

ALL young people, women and men, should try to envision how they want to spend their life before deciding on college / continued education. To imply that a girl is just going to end up getting married and staying home, so educating her is probably not a good investment, is insulting.

ALL young men and women deciding on college careers are only 17-18 years old. They might have an idea what they want to do, but a lot of them will change their minds in a year or two. Some will change their minds in ten years and go back to school to change careers. Some will change their mind in ten years or fifteen years, but not have the desire or means to make a change and will stick it out in a ill-fitting job just to pay the bills.

I believe that education is never wasted. Anytime I learn something, I am enriched--even if I never get a "return on investment" for the money or time it cost me to learn.

That said, it makes sense for parents to help students research the potential jobs and earnings for the course of study a student is considering. It makes sense to find the best program for the student at the best price--don't go into debt to pay for a degree if it can be done without debt. Minimize any necessary debt. But it doesn't make sense to push a student towards a degree/career they don't like, just for the potential of earning more money than in a career of the student's choosing.
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Old 10-12-2016, 08:55 AM   #47
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The FAFSA is definitely needed for any aid from most schools (some require another questionnaire too, can't recall the name of it). We received many notices wanting it in January, made difficult because we didn't have our numbers together until the end of the month or early February.
Good place to point out that the FAFSA deadline is changing, and that these changes impact people who have kids in high school now.

The starting date for submittals is being moved earlier - from January 1 to October 1. Also, the tax year that one uses to file the FAFSA is transitioning to one year earlier than it used to be:

https://financialaidtoolkit.ed.gov/r...-17-18-faq.pdf
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Old 10-12-2016, 09:31 AM   #48
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Wow. The 1950's called; they want to know when you are coming home.

ALL young people, women and men, should try to envision how they want to spend their life before deciding on college / continued education. To imply that a girl is just going to end up getting married and staying home, so educating her is probably not a good investment, is insulting.
I definitely consider myself a feminist but I agree that the daughter's life goals should be a consideration in the choice of college. Let's look at it another way: if she wants to have the option of being a full-time mother, will an expensive education lock her into loans that make that impossible for her unless she marries someone with megabucks? My DS was adamant about marrying someone who shared his intention of having the wife stay home FT with children. My biggest fear was that he'd find Ms. Right and she'd have $80K in student loans. Instead, DDIL had gotten a 2-year business college degree and worked maintaining inventory a a car dealership till our granddaughter was born. Apparently she had some student loans but they were manageable. Contrast that with a coworker at a previous job whose wife had an MD degree, big student loans, and had decided she wanted to stay home with the kids.

Unless you have an infinite supply of money, comparing the cost of the education vs. potential income is important, both for males and females.
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Old 10-12-2016, 09:44 AM   #49
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....I believe that education is never wasted. ...
Agreed... never a total waste but sometimes pretty close... loads of examples of people with degrees in art, drama, literature, etc. who have been unable to find jobs and careers that made their education worthwhile. Like I said before, begin with the end in mind... what you do in your 20s may well not be your ultimate life's calling but it is foolish to be careless in choosing what to study and ending up with loans (or your parents having spent a lot of money) and getting a bad start in life on your own.
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Old 10-12-2016, 10:06 AM   #50
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As for the major, we've also been clear with our kids that they need to select a major that will lead to employment. If they want to study art/music, then they can select it as a minor or do a double-major - unless they have a plan they can sell us (teaching degree, etc).
I agree with this. In my career as an actuary, I met quite a few people who double-majored in Math and something else- music, theology, even linguistics. The linguistics major specialized in the language of the natives of Greenland. Real marketable, huh? She's a very high-powered woman with a thriving consulting practice- as an actuary. When my professional society celebrated its 100-year anniversary, they had a big, splashy celebration and the music was by an orchestra and chorus made up of members. Here's the result. Pretty good turnout for a bunch of insurance geeks.

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Old 10-12-2016, 10:11 AM   #51
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From the WSJ:

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For all the thought that families put into choosing a college, very often the decision is dominated by a simple line of reasoning: The more prestigious the school you attend, the higher your salary will be after you graduate.

So, they focus their efforts on getting their children into the best possible college they can afford, figuring that even if they’re paying more tuition now, they’re maximizing earnings down the road.

But that formula doesn’t always hold true. And following it blindly can leave graduates burdened with much more debt than necessary when they get out of school.
http://www.wsj.com/articles/do-elite...ons-1454295674


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Old 10-12-2016, 10:12 AM   #52
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Agreed... never a total waste but sometimes pretty close... loads of examples of people with degrees in art, drama, literature, etc. who have been unable to find jobs and careers that made their education worthwhile........ .
I totally agree. The unfortunate fact is that our brains are not fully mature at 17 or 18 years old and even if they were, most of us had way too little life experience and context to choose a lifetime career. It has to be hard to disappoint a child by telling them you have a budget and that you may not be able to fund their dreams, but kids have to face reality eventually, so maybe now is a better time to begin the discussion.
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Old 10-12-2016, 01:02 PM   #53
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I think if you are an ROI kind of person, looking at the Job Outlook Handbook and Payscale reports by college and by major, it becomes pretty clear what the good value schools are and what majors have good ROI on time and money. Like other posters, we also know of many instances where the parents paid a lot of money they couldn't easily afford or the kids or parents took out huge loans for unemployable majors, very low income majors, the kids flunked or dropped out, etc.

If a child wants to be a starving artist, $200K can buy a nice house in many parts of the country. And with a mortgage free house in a low cost of living area plus maybe a few rent paying roommates, they wouldn't need much other income to get by and could be an artist for a living.
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Old 10-12-2016, 01:17 PM   #54
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I know my viewpoint on others paying for most of college is skewed by my own experience. I had four siblings, none of them went to college. Neither of my parents or their parents went to college, I was the first (and only until my kids) in our family. I worked during the summers, lived off savings and used student loans. Unfortunately, my parents took out loans for my college that they spent on themselves. Attempting to pay these loans back hurt them financially. They even passed away still owing money. I assume all this colors my opinion, and I wanted to be forthright as much as possible, but here it goes:

Parents should not bankrupt themselves, work longer and harder, or unduly sacrifice to send their kids to college. If parents can easily afford it, they still shouldn't pay for all college costs.

I know I get strange looks when I express this viewpoint. And I know the people I have helped do financial planning have thought my opinion harsh. I can emphasize with the guilt nagging you to pay more. But don't agonize over it.

Humans generally appreciate stuff more when they themselves work for it or create it. The flip side of this is we don't tend to value the stuff handed to us. I attended a costly, small college instead of a state university. Some of my peers were trust fund kids in the bad sense of the phrase, many others didn't have to pay much for their education. I dare say many didn't get as much out of college, or learn as many of life's lessons, during this time period.

While in the moment they may appear better off to not have to worry about finances, this delays adulthood. Taking on responsibility and ownership of their future during early adulthood is critical. This begins the transformation to becoming responsible, well functioning members of our society.

By all means help in any way you can during college years. Even ease the financial burden somewhat, but even if you could pay for college entirely, don't.

Don't help them now by hindering them in the long run.
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Old 10-12-2016, 02:01 PM   #55
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If parents can easily afford it, they still shouldn't pay for all college costs.
Not having to worry about money definitely made my 4-year undergrad engineering experience more enjoyable, and probably helped my academic performance. In grad school, I was a TA, which reduced tuition costs substantially. This was back in the early '80s when tuition was more reasonable. It's shocking to take a peek at the current out-of-state tuition at my old flyover-state undergrad school.
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Old 10-12-2016, 02:17 PM   #56
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Not having to worry about money definitely made my 4-year undergrad engineering experience more enjoyable, and probably helped my academic performance.
For some it may work out fine to have their college paid for by others, and maybe even help academically. For others, the ownership of their own college education can lead to better academics as well (as they try harder with skin in the game). I suppose no one shoe fits all, and there are always exceptions.

Generally though, delaying the responsibility of financial contribution and time management until an adult-child graduates from college (and is thrown to the workforce wolves) seems like a bad way to go (for many).
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Old 10-12-2016, 02:27 PM   #57
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I know I have said this before in college threads and others, but all families are different and there really is no right or wrong about whether or how much parents contribute to their children's "extra" expenses before or after high school, whether it's a car, college, wedding, down payment. You get to choose for your own family, not for other people.

However, it is probably helpful for parents to tell their children early on what if any contribution they are planning to make for these extras so the children can adapt their own schoolwork and expectations and winnow down their own prospects. The OP's children will likely flourish regardless of his contribution to their education--children are resilient.
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Old 10-12-2016, 02:52 PM   #58
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Parents should not bankrupt themselves, work longer and harder, or unduly sacrifice to send their kids to college. If parents can easily afford it, they still shouldn't pay for all college costs.

I agree. We told our kids to work hard for scholarships, then grants, then loans. We promised that AFTER they graduated and IF we were financially able, we would try to help them with their loans. It worked pretty well. The kids got scholarships, grants, and loans. As promised, we have been helping them pay off their loans. Strangely enough, the kids all lived pretty frugally and kept their student loans to a manageable level. All three now have their own homes (with mortgages, of course) and are working on becoming debt free. I'm sure had we agreed to foot the whole bill, it would have cost us a lot more and I'm not at all certain they would have appreciated their education (and our help) as much as our current arrangement. More than ever, though, YMMV.
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Old 10-12-2016, 04:55 PM   #59
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I went to a smaller less expensive university with a big scholarship- my first choice didn't offer any scholarship at all. My friend got nearly the same offer I did- only she went to big expensive state U and got a degree in interior design. She didn't realize she was going to have to live in a city to really use her degree. She worked in a nearby city for miserable pay and she hated the job. She hated commuting and took a much lower job in our home town. She currently works at a position that doesn't require a degree at all, and doesn't pay much. She'd probably stay at home with her kids but can't because of her student loans.

A previous poster was right in saying that the human brain is not fully developed at 18 and not capable of making one of the largest financial decisions of his/her life without significant guidance.
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Old 10-12-2016, 06:58 PM   #60
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We had a simular situation and I felt some guilt. 3 Kids, one Ivy, one Cal Tech and one at a "Public Ivy", Our contribution was equivalent to State School Tuition, Room & Board, so all three took on Student loan debt. They did get some merit based scholarships, they were very minimal $$ in the scheme of things. At this point our kids our from their mid-twenties to mid 30's. The oldest is a tenure track professor at a major university, the 2nd is finishing up his Phd and has had plenty of financial support / fellowships from his schools. The youngest is still finding herself. Bottom line, the student loans although significant, were not too big of a price to pay. At this point they do not appear to be a burden to the older kids and the younger has the least debt, since she went to a public University. All my kids feel they earned their educations. Had we paid for all of it, I am not sure the outcome would have been better for them.
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