The Student Trap

Logan Murray  |  Feb 1, 2022

NOT ALL DEBT IS created equal—and that’s especially true when it comes to student loans.
For the vast majority of debt, we can calculate the ongoing monthly payment if we know the interest rate, number of payment periods, current balance and if the payment is due at the beginning or end of the period. But for federal student loans, we may need to know one more variable: the borrower’s discretionary income.
With federal student loans,

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No Name No Problem

Tony Isola  |  Dec 17, 2021

IS A DEGREE FROM an elite school the golden ticket? I recently read Jeffrey Selingo’s excellent book Who Gets In and Why—and came away with some fascinating insights.
Selingo says experience and skills often trump where someone went to college. Each year, 1.8 million students graduate from four-year colleges, with 54,000 leaving with a degree from an elite institution. Simple math confirms employers must fill jobs with more than just graduates from elite schools.

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College Math

Kyle McIntosh  |  Nov 22, 2021

WHAT’S THE REAL PRICE? In September, I wrote about the potential tab for sending our first child to college in 2025. The four-year cost was estimated at anywhere from $65,000 to $430,000, depending on the college chosen.
This wild disparity led me to conclude that college financial planning was like saving to buy a car—when you don’t know if you’ll drive off the lot in a Honda or a Lamborghini.
Since then, I’ve tried to put a sharper pencil to college costs.

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What’s the Price?

Kyle McIntosh  |  Sep 29, 2021

DRIVE TO HOSPITAL. Cut the umbilical cord. Figure out names. Open a 529.
While the primary focus upon our two babies’ births was bonding, I had another item to check off: I opened a 529 college savings account for each one within a month of their births.
It’s paid off handsomely. Through automatic monthly contributions—plus stellar market performance over the past decade—they’ve amassed sizable balances for higher education. One child now is in high school,

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College in 72 Hours

Greg Spears  |  Sep 2, 2021

OUR NEPHEW JESSE, age 19, took a gap year after high school to explore meditation and work for UPS. He’s a great kid. But he had worn out his welcome with family friends in Florida, so he decided to sleep in his car.
That was in May—and that’s when we invited him to live with us in Pennsylvania.
Jesse hasn’t had an easy life. His mother died of cancer when he was four years old.

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College or Plan B?

Howard Rohleder  |  Aug 30, 2021

WE’RE PROGRAMMED to believe that a four-year college degree is the only path to success. After spending several years on both a small-town school board and an economic development board, I saw the disservice that this belief is doing to many of our students.
Students and their parents are led to believe that everyone is taking a college prep curriculum in high school. There are indeed students who are actually preparing for college.

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Finding Merit

Anika Hedstrom  |  Jun 30, 2021

THERE’S NO SINGLE, right way to legally crack the college admissions and financial aid systems. It’s up to teenagers and their parents to do the necessary work.

Still, it helps to have a tour guide—which is what you get with The Price You Pay for College, the new book from New York Times financial journalist Ron Lieber. Lieber’s book discusses why college costs so much, digs into the allure of elite schools,

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Beyond Saving

Joe Kesler  |  Jun 21, 2021

I’M CONSERVATIVE, but sometimes even I see the need to change. For instance, I belonged to a high-profile service organization for many years. They’re very proud of their tradition of raising money to give a Webster’s dictionary to each fifth grader in our city.
Let’s face it: These days, no self-respecting fifth grader is going to be caught dead with a hardcopy dictionary. Doesn’t everyone know that kids look up everything online? Traditions die hard—even when they no longer make sense.

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The Places You’ll Go

Catherine Horiuchi  |  May 19, 2021

MY TWIN DAUGHTERS just finished sorting through college offers and making their decision ahead of the May 1 acceptance deadline. With nearly 3,000 four-year colleges to choose from, how did they decide?
It wasn’t easy. The pandemic didn’t just close our local public schools. It also ended visits from universities and limited school-based college counseling. Counselors compensated with lunchtime workshops, links to webinars, and lots of robocalls and emails urging students to fill out and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

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College Crapshoot

Catherine Horiuchi  |  Feb 8, 2021

A LIFE OF FRUGALITY might mean your children graduate college debt-free, which is a major accomplishment. But what about your happy-go-lucky neighbors, who spent every dime they earned and never saved for college?
At issue here is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is the basis for the all-important expected family contribution (EFC). The whole thing can seem like one big crapshoot, as I can now attest.
The EFC may determine that your spendthrift neighbors’ kids also get to graduate debt-free.

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Goodbye Assets

Catherine Horiuchi  |  Jan 12, 2021

MY TWINS ARE SENIORS in high school. That means, pandemic or no pandemic, we spent the fall applying to colleges.
Here in California, the pandemic closed public schools in March and most did not reopen for in-person teaching with the start of the current academic year. That forced parents to stand in for college counselors. The preparations high school juniors usually engage in, such as visiting colleges and taking standardized tests, didn’t occur this past spring or summer.

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Four College Lessons

Bill Anderson  |  Dec 18, 2020

HELPING YOUR CHILD choose a college that’s a good fit—and that you and your teenager can afford—can be a confusing process. The right fit can be a life- and paycheck-enhancing experience. The wrong fit can be a waste of time and money.
In the past two years, my wife and I have helped our son and daughter pick colleges. Along the way, we’ve learned four lessons I wish we’d known at the start of the process.

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Saved by Borrowing

Morgen Henderson  |  May 12, 2020

IN HIGH SCHOOL, I worked at a local roller-skating rink to save money for college. I calculated that, if I kept working at the same rate once I was in college, I could make it through my four-year degree without taking on any student loans.
I was determined to make it work.
In my freshman year, my plan started with a budget—and that budget included this simple edict: Spend the least amount possible on everything.

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Educated Consumers

Kristine Hayes   |  Sep 18, 2019

COLLEGE STUDENTS who borrow graduate with an average $37,000 in loans. While many people believe loans are the only way to finance a college education, that’s simply not the case. Here are five ways to get an advanced education while minimizing debt:
1. Stay close to home. Sure, it’s fun to think about moving across the country to go to school. But staying close to home after high school comes with several benefits.

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Matter of Degree

Richard Quinn  |  Aug 13, 2019

YES, EDUCATION is invaluable. But should young adults go to college to obtain a piece of paper that may mean little in the real world? Is the student debt we hear so much about really worth it? Could pushing college attendance for all be as misguided as pushing homeownership for all?
I’m not against formal education. I put four children through college. In fact, I believe parents are obligated to cover their children’s college costs,

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