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My College Education Expenses

February 21st, 2010 at 06:31 am

My parents paid for nearly my entire college education. There was a year where we did qualify for Pell grants because my Dad had been laid off from a job the prior year and he had two kids in college! We did take out student loans. I remember paying my loans off within the first year of graduating. I'm guessing the amount was less than $2,000. It's hard to remember now.

I did work part time for at least 2 of the 4 years I went to college, but I believe this was for things like food, entertainment, clothing, auto fuel and all other expenses. My parents paid my rent, and car insurance.

Honestly, at the time, I took the amount my parents paid to send me to college for granted. I probably still do. I do have the appreciation for the cost of college, as we did have to pay some of my huband's college expenses. Luckily, the Army and his full time job paid for a large portion. Those student loans were paid off several years ago.

My parents had saved some money for my sister and I for college in UGMA accounts, invested in mutual funds. I remember pretty distinctly, writing a letter every semester requesting a certain amount be withdrawn. When I received the check, I used it only for tuition. I never thought to pull more money for myself. I knew that it was for education expenses only.

I know of several people my age who took out the maximum student loan amounts every year. The used part of it for tuition and books, but the remainder was "fun" money. Guess what? They are still paying their student loans! Ugh. Of course, for all I know my parents are still paying on our student loans. I sure hope not!

I bring all this up, because I was talking to my sister about the fact that my oldest daughter will be starting college in 5.5 years. And it doesn't feel that far away. Yikes!! Yes, we have some money saved. Both girls get good grades, so may qualify for some scholarship money. I really need to start crunching some numbers to see how much more I might want to save, or be able to save.

I have thought all along that the girls should have their hand in paying for some of the expenses. I think they should also work some, part time at least. I also think we can cash flow part of it, as well.

Any insights? How was your college education paid for? Are you currently paying for a child's college education? How is that going? I'd love to hear!

10 Responses to “My College Education Expenses”

  1. Amanda Says:

    My dad told my brother and I that we would each get a car (not a new car but a car that works), one wedding, and 4 years of college. If it took us longer than four years we'd pay the rest, if we got a divorce he would not pay for another wedding (or the divorce for that matter). We both graduated in four years and now I'm working on my master's, so that I have to pay for myself. Good luck with the decisions you make.

  2. monkeymama Says:

    Interesting.

    My dad grew up poor and put himself through college. First generation high school/college. My mom had a paid-for college though worked, etc. Because of their experiences, they wanted to help, but they didn't want me to take it for granted, all the same. They helped financially early on, but it tapered off pretty rapidly. I worked all through college and moved out on my own after 6 months - I am just fiercely independent and could no longer stand living with my over-protective parents. I'd say, my last year was paid by merit scholarships (never qualified for need since my parents had a good income), I had $10k inheritance used for living expenses over 5 years, and my parents might have contributed $5k for college (not sure how much for living expenses first year or so before I was working enough to be self sufficient). I definitely worked the frugal - house sitting for free places to stay and extra money, I worked for a free CPA review course, and stuff like that.

    I remember my classmates who were very vocal how they had to do it "on their own." You know, the ones with the brand new cars, and taking on student loans so they could eat out every night. I remember the rest of us just looking at each other and rolling our eyes. You know, with our ancient cars and many jobs. Which was the demographic of my college - mostly older people working their way through school.

    I personally, wouldn't change a thing. Best experience of my life. Though, I was always well aware that I had far more support than my dad had the luxury of. Even if my parents didn't give me a blank check for college. They gave me more emotional and financial support than most people I know, all the same. Most importantly, helping me pick an affordable and useful degree.

    For our kids, we expect them to work through college and will help them. The exact right balance will be determined by their field of study, needs and readiness. I think it just is different for every person. We'd probably encourage community college to start, and living at home or with relatives in the beginning. There are a number of excellent and INexpensive colleges here, and so they are really lucky in that regard. MIL will save about $20k each for them ($1k per year since birth) and I assume we will have some extra investments in our name when my spouse returns to work. If nothing else, he could work to help pay for college. I don't want them to blindly pay more for college than they need to, but I also don't want them to go into debt for a good/useful education. (We didn't take on a dime of college debt). We will help as we see fit. (The $20k would cover the best public colleges here for 4 years - I did mention it was inexpensive!)

    My spouse had a free ride (& lived at home) but worked all through college and saved most of every dime. Which put him in an excellent spot. For that, we are on the same page.

    Sorry for the novel!

  3. Joan.of.the.Arch Says:

    Erh, we did not save a cent for college for our child! However, we knew we would be willing to spend any extra to help him through college, or even to help set him up in a small business if he did not choose college. We would have been willing to get further employment if needed, but of course we would expect him to work hard in school and, to a small degree, in doing some work to support himself.

    I also talked to him since way before college age about avoiding tuition debt if possible. However, we also deliberately took the risk that our smart, focused kid would be offered scholarships. That did pan out, so we have not had to give him anything for tuition or books and only a little for living expenses.

    He is now at a public university and shares a house with, I think, four other students. He is more frugal than I. Cooks from scratch, rides a bike to school, takes a lunch with him or waits to eat at home, occasionally buys & sells 2nd hand computers, tutors math and science, grades for profs, buys international versions of texts or bookshares with others, goes to state parks and such for refreshment, buys clothes only when needed, uses Tracfone with no texting, gets summer research work related to his major---lots of small things to either save or earn money.


  4. skydivingchic Says:

    My college was paid for with a bit of everything. My grandparents on my Mom's side put money aside for us each Christmas, birthday, Easter, etc for college. My parents also had saved some money for each of us for college. From the time we started working, half of each of our paychecks went into savings for college. I qualified for several scholarships. I also worked a few hours a week through college and full time summers. My paychecks during the school year had to cover gas and fun money. Paychecks during the summer covered living expenses and the rest was saved for the next year. My parents also cash flowed some of the expenses. Finally, my last semester in college I had to take a loan to finish - it was less than $3000, closer to $2000 if I recall correctly. Overall I feel this was a good mix of funding sources. I truly appreciate the help my parents gave me so that I started independent life with minimal debt.

    I just started studying for a Master's degree. My company reimburses 80% of tuition, books, and fees if I earn good grades. I'm covering the rest with cash flow and savings.

  5. Purple Flower's Says:

    I was expected to pay for my college education solely on my own. My parents did not contribute any money whatsoever. I used gift money I had saved up for many years. In addition, I worked part-time throughout high school and used that for my education expenses as well. Maybe my parents didn't assist me because they were discouraging me to go to college. But for whatever reason, I was on my own for all college expenses. It has made me realize that I value by education probably more than some children who are not expected to contribute anything towards their college costs. My most recent student loan is from an additional degree I got in my late 20s.

  6. NJDebbie Says:

    We pay for our son's college tuition and textbooks. He decided to attend our local community college which is a tremendous bargain. Our total for tuition for 2009 was about $6,300. He works part-time and he's responsible for gas and entertainment. I'm relieved that he chose to stay local. He is studying to be a registered nurse and will be done in two years. I'm encouraging him to continue studying and we'll help pay for that.

  7. janH Says:

    Hubby and I paid for most of our college expenses and living expenses through work or scholarships. We were very blessed with that. Our kids have had part time jobs for expenses, but we've paid for school and some living expenses (besides some small scholarships). We'd saved some for DS, but between the time he started and now with DD almost through, the exact same college has increased costs from 50 dollars per credit hour to around 250 per credit hour. I'm so very glad she is almost done because it is getting really expensive!

  8. frugaltexan75 Says:

    When I was in elementary school my mom won a malpractice suit against a doctor. My parents put a portion of the money into a trustfund for my brother and I. It was to be distribuited on our 18th birthday (1/5th) and then each year after - as long as we were going to college. (up to 5 years). If we ended up not going to college, we'd get the money on our 25th birthday.

    I started college when I was 17 - so a year before my first distribution. I was able to cover a good portion of my tuition through one-time scholarships, and then I also had been saving money throughout high-school. I also worked several jobs - part-time at the local elementary school, tutoring, sunday school teacher (pd!) and other odd jobs as I found them. My parents helped me out with the portion I couldn't cover. Then, the next year when I got my first distribution, I paid them back out of that money.

    I continued to work at the elementary school and other odd jobs because I had purchased my first car during the summer (Hundayi Sonata - three years old) and needed to cover car insurance and gas. Between the trust fund distributions, my earnings, and the discount I got (due to my dad being a pastor) I managed to come out of college with no loans. I also had one distribution which came after I graduated.

    So ... my college was essentially paid for with money won from a lawsuit, scholarships, tuition discount, and money I personally earned.

    My brother only had the tuition discount his first two years of college, because his third year is when our dad retired - so, no more discount. He worked full time at a restaurant - first as a bus boy, then eventually a server. He also ended with a degree and no debt. (no scholarships)

    I had it much easier than my brother (scholarships and 4 full years with the discount) - and considering how much more dedicated I was to completing my education, it is really amazing to me that he didn't give up when he lost the tuition discount. He rocks!

    -- If I have children, I probably would encourage them to do their first two-years at a community college - and encourage them to save as much as they can on their own. I would also expect them to work at least part-time. But, I would also help them as much as I could - as long as they maintained at least a C average. (I heard somewhere that home schooled kids can go to community college for free ...)

  9. creditcardfree Says:

    I appreciate hearing everyone's college experiences. Keep them coming!!

  10. ceejay74 Says:

    Keep in mind I was very financially clueless when I went to college, so I only have a vague idea of how it broke down! LOL.

    I went to the most expensive college in the U.S. It was my dream destination and my dad decided to help me get there.

    We got some need-based help from the college (my dad makes decent money but is the sole bread-earner, and this is one heckuva expensive college).

    He also paid god-only-knows how much from savings. He let me in on a bit of the process but I never saw the final numbers of what he paid.

    For spending money I had a work-study job, some babysitting gigs, and money I made during the summers. I think my dad might have given me a bit here and there but I felt bad asking him since he was paying for room, some board, books and tuition. (Oh and had bought me a used car that I took with me to college.) As ignorant as I was about money, I was aware and appreciative of how much my dad was doing for me. Being around tons of rich kids just increased my awe of the fact that my dad was putting me through the same school.

    I took on somewhere between $10K and $15K in student loans. My dad helped me out with $100 per month my first year of starting to pay them off, but then I got on my feet (partly thanks to credit cards, gulp) and took care of them from then on. Paid only the minimum but eventually did get them paid off.

    I don't feel like that would have been too bad if I'd been smart enough (or informed enough) not to take on other debt. In fact, it could have been a good object lesson on what debt felt like. It sort of was, for a little while, but eventually I caved in to credit cards and other unsecured debt.

    I would hope to give my kids more knowledge and less money than my dad did. I love him and am forever grateful of all the financial help, but I still feel guilty at how much I took from him, not really knowing the value of money at the time. I'd rather have a story of having been taught to be as frugal and independent as he was, and pulling more of my weight in regards to college.

    No regrets about my college of choice though, so if my kids had a dream college that was rather exorbitant, I would try to help them go there; I'd just make sure they realized my contribution and contributed plenty on their part as well!

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